SPORT

Japan advances; Iran held

CHONGQING, China, july 24. Defending champion Japan booked its place in the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over Thailand, while Oman held former champion Iran to a 2-2 draw in the Asian Cup football on Saturday.

Yuji Nakazawa scored two goals (57th, 89th) in Japan's big win, while

Shunsuke Nakamura (22nd), Fakunish (69th) scored the other goals. Sutee Suksomkit pulled one back for Thailand in the 12th minute.

Japan tops Group D and next face Iran, who is second with four points after drawing 2-2 with Oman on Saturday.

Oman, contesting its first Asian Cup, dominated the match and led most of the way thanks to a pair of goals from 20-year-old sensation Imad Ali. But Nosrati jumped to head in a free kick from Yahya Golmohammadi in injury time, just a minute before the final whistle, to snatch the win from Oman, which now has just one point for the tournament. Earlier Ali Karimi found the target for Iran in the 63rd minute.

``We played a great first half. If we'd had a little more experience we would have won,'' Oman's Czech-born coach Milan Macala said.

Oman carefully followed Macala's instructions to build its attack and be patient with its shots. It was cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd at the Olympic Sports Center in the western city of Chongqing.

Iran, by contrast, looked scattered for much of the match, sending many long balls forward but creating relatively few chances. Ali's first goal came off a short pass from Ahmed Hadid after the pair appeared to beat the offside trap and left the Iranian defensive line on the back foot.

— AP

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