Japan rallies to beat Vietnam in six-goal thriller at Asian Cup

Japan rallies to beat Vietnam in six-goal thriller at Asian Cup

DOHA — Japan came from behind to beat Vietnam 4-2 in their Asian Cup Group D opener in a thrilling encounter on Sunday at the Al Thumama Stadium where five goals were scored in the first half and Takumi Minamino grabbed a brace.

Japan, four-times champions who last won the Asian Cup in 2011, were shocked into action when Vietnam took a 2-1 lead before the Samurai Blue cut their south-east Asian opponents down to size with two goals just before halftime.

Vietnam’s initial resistance when the game kicked off lasted all of 10 minutes before Japan scored, with Mr. Minamino being in the right place at the right time to pounce on a rebound and guide it through a crowd of players into the net.

But Vietnam shocked Japan with an equalizer five minutes later from a corner when Nguyen Dinh Bac — running away from goal — directed a glancing header that looped over the keeper and into the net at the far post.

As the game opened up and with both sides creating chances, it was Vietnam who took the lead from another set piece when Bui Hoang Anh headed the cross to the far post where Japan keeper Zion Suzuki failed to deal with it and Pham Tuan Hai fired home.

The goal sparked wild celebrations and Vietnam coach Philippe Troussier, who is no stranger to Japan having guided them to the title in 2000, allowed himself a wry smile when they went 2-1 up. — Reuters