UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (Reuters) - A first-half goal from Takehiro Tomiyasu was enough to send Japan into the Asian Cup quarter-finals for the eighth consecutive tournament after a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia at the Sharjah Stadium on Monday (Jan 21).
The Saudis, looking to end a 23-year drought since their third continental title, paid the price for failing to convert their chances as four-time champions Samurai Blue progressed to face Vietnam on Thursday.
Japan went in front in the 20th minute when defender Tomiyasu rose above a Saudi defender in the centre of the box to head a corner into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Saudi Arabia dictated play in both halves, but were simply unable to finish in front of goal as the Japanese defenders put in a solid shift.
Midfielder Salem Aldawsari had a golden opportunity to put the Green Falcons level in the 62nd minute but sprayed the ball over the bar with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box.
Moments later, defender Ali Hadi Albulayhi guided the ball well over the bar with a free header after an inviting Aldawsari cross into the penalty area.
Japan, who claimed their last title in 2011, had won all three of their group-stage matches to finish top of their group, while Saudi Arabia finished second in theirs with wins over North Korea and Lebanon.