Iraq earn shock win over Japan in Asian Cup

Iraq earn shock win over Japan in Asian Cup

Iraq won their first Asian Cup Group D match against Japan in 42 years, 2-1 on Friday, to advance to the knockout stage courtesy to a first-half double from Aymen Hussein.

The west Asian team, which had not beaten Japan in their previous nine meetings, climbed to the top of the group with six points after two games, while Hajime Moriyasu’s side is in second position with three points.

Iraq scored inside five minutes as Japan custodian Zion Suzuki failed to deal with a cross, instead parrying the ball straight to Hussein, who headed it into the top corner.

Iraq’s tactic to unsettle Japan was to stay compact and use their physicality early on, which worked to some extent until Moriyasu’s team started using their pace and finding space on the flanks to put crosses into the box.

However, Iraq extended their advantage on the stroke of halftime when Ahmed Al-Hajjaj dribbled past his marker and floated in a cross that Hussein headed home from close range.

Japan had a wonderful opportunity to equalise in the 22nd minute from a set piece when a header landed to Wataru Endo at the edge of the six-yard box, but the captain was unable to guide an overhead kick into the net.

Moriyasu made five replacements after the restart, and despite Japan’s penalty claim being disallowed following a VAR review, they did not challenge the keeper until the 94th minute, when Endo headed home at the far post from a corner.

The atmosphere was tight in the last minutes as Japan desperately sought an equaliser, but Iraq held on for the three points to edge ahead.

Next Matches:

Nova88 Official Partnerships:

Official Asian Regional Partner – FC Internazionale Milano

Official Asian Betting Partner – Sevilla FC

Introducing Nova88’s Official Partner in Asian Sportsbook Forum – Asianbookie

Nova88’s Official Partner Livescore Platform –