Qatar stun Japan to claim maiden Asian Cup title

Qatar stun Japan to claim maiden Asian Cup title
Qatar forward Almoez Ali (2nd from L) shoots to score during the AFC Asian Cup final against Japan at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. AFP
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Abu Dhabi: Almoez Ali scored a spectacular overhead kick for a record ninth goal of the tournament to set Qatar on their way to a first Asian Cup triumph with a stunning 3-1 win over four-times champions Japan on Friday.

Ali's 12th minute strike took him past Ali Daei's 1996 tally and, combined with a 27th minute strike from Abdulaziz Hatem and a late Akram Afif penalty, helped the Qataris make an emphatic statement ahead of their hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

The Sudan-born 22-year-old Ali's record goal came after a protest by the host United Emirates FA into his eligibility to represent Qatar was dismissed by the Asian Football Confederation only a few hours before kickoff.

Japan finally found a way through a Qatar defence that had not conceded in six previous matches when Takumi Minamino scored in the 69th minute but the penalty condemned the Samurai Blue to their first defeat in an Asian Cup final.

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