Japan edge Australia 1-0 to win Asian Cup

Written by: Pti
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Doha, Jan 29 (AFP) Tadanari Lee scored an extra-timewinner as Japan edged Australia 1-0 to win a pulsating AsianCup final and become the most successful team in the historyof the competition.

The unmarked substitute sent a stunning left-foot volleypast the diving Mark Schwarzer in the 109th minute to hand hiscountry their fourth title at the continental showcase, a featno-one else has achieved.

The win, following their successes in 1992, 2000 and2004, carried the added bonus of an automatic place at the2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil -- the traditional World Cupwarm-up tournament.

It followed a deadlocked match at 90 minutes that sentthe game into extra-time, with penalties looking likely untilLee worked his magic.

Both teams had scored 13 times before the final andAustralia looked most likely to add to that early on.

Harry Kewell had the first shot on target in the openingminute, an ambitious long-range drive that didn''t trouble EijiKawashima, while Matt McKay sliced a decent opportunity frominside the box just seconds later.

Schwarzer, who marked a significant milestone bysurpassing Alex Tobin to set a new record for the most cappedSocceroo ever on his 88th appearance, also found himself inaction at the other end.

The 38-year-old, though, had Keisuke Honda''s half-chanceeasily covered.

Australia were looking strong with Japan missing thespark of Shinji Kagawa, who broke a bone in his foot in theirpenalty shoot-out win over South Korea in the last four.

The Australians should have gone ahead on 15 minutes whenBrett Holman whipped a low cross into the area but thestretching Carl Valeri could not connect.

In a dangerous period for Japan, Tim Cahill''s headerforced a desperate one-handed save from Kawashima momentslater as the Socceroos upped the ante.

Lucas Neill, Cahill and Kewell then linked well on thehalf-hour mark, only for the former Liverpool man''shalf-volley to hit the side-netting.

Holger Osieck''s side had only conceded one goal ahead ofthe final and Japan were struggling to penetrate their defenceuntil Ryoichi Maeda finally found himself in space on the edgeof the area, only to hook his shot over the bar.

Japan were working hard to build attacks, but they werebreaking down too easily.

As they did in the first half, Australia came out afterthe break with real verve and almost took the lead on 49minutes when Luke Wilkshire''s cross hit the bar and Cahilltried to bundle in the rebound. MORE (AFP) PDS

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