UAE dethrones Japan in 2015 AFC Asian Cup
Santino Honasan on Jan 24, 2015 07:39 PM
(Photo Courtesy of www.afcasiancup.com) Iraq defeats Iran to advance to the 2015 Asian Cup Semifinals
The last set of quarterfinals matchups in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup last Friday, January 23, was dramatic to say the least, as Iraq and the United Arab Emirates pulled a couple of upsets via penalties to advance to the semifinals.
In the first scheduled quarterfinals match-up, Group D runners-up Iraq defeated Asia’s top-ranked FIFA team and Group C winners Iran, 7-6 on penalties (3-3 a.e.t) at the Canberra Stadium.
Iran went on top early, thanks to a Sardar Amzoun conversion in the 24th minute, but Ahmed Yasin was able to score the equalizer in the 56th minute and forcing the match to go into added extra time.
In the extension, Younis Mahmoud gave Lions a 2-1 lead in the 93rd until Morteza Pouraliganji connected on the equalizer just ten minutes later.
In the 116th mark, Dhurgham Ismail looked to propel Iraq into the semis with a penalty kick conversion, but Reza Ghoochannejhad kept the Iranians alive with a 119th minute score to force penalties.
Even the penalty shootout needed to go to sudden death as, the score was tied at 4-4 after five attempts. In the eighth attempt, Iran’s Vahid Amiri was only able to connect on the goal post, allowing Salam Shaker to clinch the game for the Iraqi squad.
Iraq advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2007, when they won it all. They now meet South Korea on Monday, January 26.
In the final quarterfinal match, Group C runners-up United Arab Emirates scored a massive upset, defeating defending champions and Group D winners Japan, 5-4 on penalties (1-1 a.e.t) at the Stadium Australia in Sydney.
Tournament leading scorer Ali Mabkhout got things going early for the Emirati, scoring on a seventh minute goal. The Al-Abyad looked to be on their way to the semis with a 1-0 lead, until Gaku Shibasaki scored an 81st minute equalizer to force additional time.
The extension remained tightly contested, as both squads went scoreless in the extension, calling for a penalty shootout. By the fifth attempt, the score was even at 4, and Japan’s Shinji Kagawa fired the ball right into the left goalpost, then bouncing far right and away from the back of the net. Ismail Ahmed made his attempt count to send the UAE into the semis for the first time since 1996.
Up next for the UAE is a matchup with host-nation Australia on Tuesday, January 27.
The 2015 AFC Asian Cup Semifinals will air on ABS-CBN Sports + Action on these dates:
Monday, January 25, 10:30 pm: South Korea vs. Iraq
Tuesday, January 26: 11:00 pm: Australia vs. United Arab Emirates