Football: Osako double saves the day for Japan in 3-2 Asian Cup win over Turkmenistan

Japan's Yuya Osako celebrates scoring their first goal during the Asian Cup football match between Japan and Turkmenistan at the al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Jan 9, 2019.
Japan's Yuya Osako celebrates scoring their first goal during the Asian Cup football match between Japan and Turkmenistan at the al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Jan 9, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

ABU DHABI (AFP) - Yuya Osako netted a quickfire double as former champions Japan survived a scare to beat Turkmenistan 3-2 in their Asian Cup opener on Wednesday (Jan 9).

The Blue Samurai reached the last 16 of last year's World Cup but they had to fight back from a goal down at halftime in their Group F clash in Abu Dhabi.

Turkmenistan captain Arslan Amanov put the underdogs ahead after 26 minutes, unleashing a ferocious long-range drive that arrowed into the top corner.

But Osako produced a smart turn and finish inside the box to equalise for Japan 10 minutes into the second half after sustained pressure from the four-time Asian champions.

The Werder Bremen striker put Japan in front four minutes later, tapping into an empty net after Yuto Nagatomo's dinked pass over goalkeeper Mammet Orazmuhammedow.

Ritsu Doan added a deflected third after 70 minutes, but Ahmet Atayev smashed in a penalty 11 minutes from time for the Emeralds to ensure a nervous finish for the Japanese.

Uzbekistan play Oman in the other Group F game in Sharjah later on Wednesday.