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Japan beats Qatar 3-2 to reach Asian Cup semis

DOHA, Qatar — Masahiko Inoha scored a late winner Friday to give 10-man Japan a thrilling 3-2 win over Qatar in the Asian Cup quarterfinals and deny the 2022 World Cup host a chance to reach the semifinals for the first time.

Striker Shinji Kagawa scored the first two goals for Japan and then helped set up the third. The Borussia Dortmund striker received a pass in the area in the 90th minute but lost the ball, which bounced into the path of Inoha who slotted it into an empty net.
Qatar opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Sebastian Suria, but Kagawa equalized in the 28th. The hosts went ahead again in the 62nd from Fabio Cesar's free kick, but Japan leveled with a close-range drive from Kagawa eight minutes later.

Japan, ranked 76 places above Qatar in the FIFA world rankings, came in as the heavy favorite but struggled early against host team, which was buoyed by a crowd of 19,479 at Al Gharafa Stadium. The 105th-ranked Qataris had said before the match they wanted to put on a good show to prove they can play with one of Asia's best teams and show they are making progressing ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

They had a dangerous chance early when a drive from Qatar's Messad Ali from well outside the area was saved by keeper Eiji Kawashima in the eighth minute, and Suria struck four minutes later.

The Uruguayan-born playmaker dashed down the right side, sidestepped defender Maya Yoshida and fired home his first goal of the tournament to send the crowd into a brief frenzy.

Japan, which had controlled much of the possession to that point, kept its poise. The patient approach paid off when Keisuke Honda fed Shinji Okazaki in the area and floated it over Qatar keeper Qasem Burhan. Kagawa, the team's leading scorer, came rushing in and headed it into the net to even the match.

It was the fourth goal of the tournament for the 21-year-old striker, who has also scored eight goals for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season.

Qatar took the lead again after the break after Yusef Ahmed got tangled up with defender Maya Yoshida and earned a free kick just outside the area. It was Yoshida's second yellow card, reducing Japan to 10 men.

Cesar, who had just come on a substitute, sent a curling free kick that caught Kawashima off guard and into the net.

Japan came back again in the 70th minute and when the duo of Okazaki and Kagawa came to the rescue. Okazaki possessed the ball outside the area and fed Kagawa, who slid to the left of the onrushing Burhan and slotted home his second goal of the match.

The teams traded chances over the next 20 minutes before Inoha struck the winner, sending the Japanese players streaming from the dugout.
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