Asian Games: Japan win maiden title; Koreans come third
The Asian Games football tournament concluded in the Chinese city of Ghangzhou today with a tense final which was eventually settled by a late Yuki Saneto strike to give Japan a maiden title. In the third place play-off, which took place directly before the final, South Korea were minutes away from losing to Iran only for a late double strike from Dong Won-Ji to give the Koreans the bronze medal.
In the third place play-off Iran started well and were worthy of their 2-0 lead at the end of the first half. Gholamreza Razaei gave Iran the lead after just five minutes with Ali Asgari doubling the advantage on the edge of half-time. The second half would provide many a thrill for the watching spectators as the goals flew in; Ja-Cheol Koo halved the deficit to 2-1 after 48 minutes only for Iran to restore their two goal lead sixty seconds later through Karim Ansarifard. As the game wore on it seemed the Iranians were going to hold out for the bronze but the Koreans came back again. Chu Young-Park pulled a goal back in the 78th minute to make the score 3-2 and, with just two minutes remaining, Dong Won-Ji performed his cameo with a brace in the dying moments to overturn the deficit and take a 4-3 lead as the game entered stoppage time. It was a great way to end the opening match of the day.
Japan went into the Gold Medal match against a United Arab Emirates side who had defied expectations to reach their first ever final. Perhaps this expectation weighed heavily on the UAE who were unable to break the stubborn resistance of a well organised Japanese side. The eventual champions had to wait a long time themselves before settling the contest in their favour. The winning goal was scored in the 74th minute by Yuki Saneto, whose strike gave his country a long awaited first tournament win in the Asian Games.