Japan beats Uzbekistan in stoppage time in U23 Asian Cup final

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Japan left it late to win its second Under-23 Asian Cup after beating Uzbekistan 1-0 in the final on Friday.

Substitute Fuki Yamada broke the deadlock in the first minute of stoppage time at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium and Japan goalkeeper Leo Kokubo saved a penalty to preserve the lead.

Uzbekistan, the 2018 champion, almost took an incredible lead just before halftime. Ruslanbek Jiyanov, just inside the Japanese half, tried to send a long cross into the area but, instead, the flight of the ball deceived Kokubo and bounced off the crossbar.

For the goal, Ryotaro Araki backheeled the ball to Yamada just outside the area, and he fired low into the left corner.

Just five minutes later, Uzbekistan was awarded a penalty after a VAR review when Hiroki Sekine handled in the area. Kokubo made a diving save to his right to push out Umarali Rakhmonaliev's powerful shot.

Both finalists and third-placed Iran also qualified for Paris Olympics men's soccer. Fourth-placed Indonesia has one more chance to make it to a first Olympics since 1956 with a playoff against Guinea next Thursday.


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