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Japan Beats Iran In Asian Cup Semifinal

Japanese forward Yuya Osako (center) heads the ball home to score a controversial opening goal in the Asian Cup semifinal against Iran in Abu Dhabi on January 28.

Japan has defeated Iran 3-0 in the Asian Cup soccer semifinals, surprising the tournament's favorites and sending the Japanese into the final.

Japan's first goal came early in the second half of the match in Abu Dhabi on January 28, when Iran's defense went to argue with the referee about a call.

But no whistle was blown and Japan played on, with Yuya Osako heading the ball into the net.

Osako scored again not long after from a penalty when Morteza Pouraliganji was penalized for a hand ball.

Genki Haraguchi then scored Japan's third in injury time.

The resounding defeat stunned many tournament watchers, who had watched Iran score 12 unanswered goals in the run-up to the semifinal match.

It was the last match for Iran's long-serving coach Carlos Queiroz, whose nearly eight-year tenure included two trips to World Cup tournaments.

Japan will now face Qatar or hosts the United Arab Emirates in the final on February 1.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters