Japan are through to the final of Asian Games 2018 after toiling to a 1-0 semi-final win over United Arab Emirates at the Pakansari Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite enjoying the dominant share of possession, Japan were constantly frustrated for much of the 90 minutes by their opponents, who also did look dangerous on the counter.
But, with 12 minutes remaining, Kota Watanabe produced a fine piece of play to win possession on the edge of the opposition box before carving apart the UAE defence with an incisive pass to find Ayase Ueda.
Like he did when he came on to score the winner in the Round of 16 against Malaysia, Ueda kept his cool and emphatically finished in off the underside of the bar to seal progress for the Japanese.
Japan will now take on star-studded Korea Republic – boasting Europe-based stars like Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Seung-woo in Saturday’s final, while UAE will meet Vietnam in the battle for the bronze medal.
JAPAN: Ryosuke Kojima, Teruki Hara, Yugo Tatsuta, Daiki Sugioka, Ryo Hatsuse, Yuta Kamiya (Taishi Matsumoto 82’), Kota Watanabe, Keita Endo, Reo Hatate (Ayase Ueda 64’), Yuto Iwasaki, Daizen Maeda.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Mohamed Al-Shamsi, Khaled Ibrahim, Salem Sultan, Ahmed Rashed, Ismael Khaled, Mohammed Al-Attas, Majid Salim (Ahmed Al-Attas 85’), Mohammed Khalfan (Shahin Suroor 71’), Zayed Al-Ameri (Husain Abdalla Omar 85’), Rashed Mohammed, Ali Al-Yahyaee.
Photo credit: Asian Games 2018