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Iraq Overpowers Japan to Secure a Spot in The AFC Asian Cup Knockout Stage

Iraq defeated Japan and sent shockwaves in the AFC Asian Cup, as they achieved their first-ever win over Japan in 42 years. The Group D clash between the two sides ended in a 2-1 victory for Iraq at the Education Stadium on Friday. A thrilling encounter where Iraq sealed their victory in the Round of 16.

Iraq now has 6 points from two matches as the victory propelled them to the top of the table. Aymen Hussein scored a brace in the first half to double the lead for the West Asian side.

The 27-year-old striker from ”Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya” had the game of his life as he netted twice to give Iraq control in the match. Iraq tried to use its physicality and stay vertically and horizontally compact until Japan started to find space on the wings and came into its groove during the second half. The Japanese goalkeeper made a huge blunder in the first goal, as he couldn’t deal with the cross, and pushed the ball straight into the path of Aymen Hussein so he could hit home.

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo scored in the 93rd minute to give a consolation goal to the Japanese side but by that time it was too late as Japan tried to salvage a point.

After Aymen Hussein was substituted in the second half, Japan got a penalty but they were denied after a thorough VAR check, the game became tense in the second half, and with every passing minute, Japan became more frantic.

Iraq’s coach Jesus Casas was glad about the result, and said,

Today is a great day for Iraqi people but for us, it’s just a win. We have six points, but the players must now think of Vietnam and they need to rest. I’m very proud of my players. All Iraqi players should be proud. The perfect match is impossible, but we were close to the perfect match I wanted.

Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu commented,

We prepared the same way as we did for Vietnam but unfortunately, we found ourselves in a difficult position, especially early on. The crowd and atmosphere made us feel like we were playing an away game. We prepared the same way as we did for Vietnam but unfortunately, we found ourselves in a difficult position, especially early on. The crowd and atmosphere made us feel like we were playing an away game.

Table toppers Iraq will now face Vietnam in the last group match whereas Japan will lock horns with Indonesia on January 24 in Group D.

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Published by
Shayan Obaid Alexander