Qatar sinks Japan in Asian Cup final to win first ever title

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates
Published 01.02.2019 19:38
Players and teammembers of Qatar celebrate with trophy after winning the AFC Asian Cup final match between Japan and Qatar in Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (AP Photo)
Players and teammembers of Qatar celebrate with trophy after winning the AFC Asian Cup final match between Japan and Qatar in Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (AP Photo)

Qatar won its first major soccer title by beating four-time champion Japan 3-1 in the Asian Cup final on Friday, completing an improbable run to glory for the Gulf nation as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

The victory in Abu Dhabi against one of the favorites came only hours after tournament organizers announced they dismissed a challenge by beaten semifinalist the United Arab Emirates against the eligibility of two Qatar players.

One of them, Almoez Ali, scored the opening goal against Japan in the 12th minute with an audacious overhead kick. That gave him an all-time tournament record nine goals.

Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead in the 27th.

While Qatar conceded its first goal of the tournament in its seventh game when Takumi Minamino netted in the 69th, Akram Afif restored the two-goal cushion in the 83rd from the penalty spot.

The result confounded the gulf in the FIFA rankings, with Qatar at 93 and Japan at 50.

Qatar scored 19 goals and conceded only once in winning all seven games in the UAE.

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