DUBAI • Ritsu Doan scored the Asian Cup's first penalty awarded through the video assistant referee (VAR) as Japan beat Vietnam 1-0 to reach the tournament's semi-finals yesterday.
VAR is being used for the first time at the Cup from the quarter-final stage. As the technology made an eventful debut, Maya Yoshida had a headed goal ruled out on review before Doan was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Bui Tien Dung.
The midfielder rolled in the penalty on 57 minutes for a deserved win for the four-time champions. Japan were repeatedly denied by goalkeeper Dang Van Lam, who put on an inspired performance to keep the scoreline down.
Hajime Moriyasu's Samurai Blue will play their last-four match on Monday as they bid for a record-extending fifth title, and their first since 2011.
Dang saved brilliantly from Takehiro Tomiyasu's header and tipped Takumi Minamino's point-blank shot over the bar in an engrossing first half where VAR intervened after 24 minutes.
Referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan blew for Yoshida's goal from a corner before replays showed it came off the defender's arm.
The Vietnamese No. 1 denied Wataru Endo early in the second half before VAR had another say, this time in Japan's favour when Doan went down under Bui's challenge and replays showed contact.
As Vietnam poured forward in search of the equaliser, Phong Hong Duy went close while Dang kept his side in the game with another fine stop, this time from Minamino.
But there was no coming back for the AFF Suzuki Cup champions, whose only other foray to the last 16 was in 2007, when they lost to eventual winners Iraq.
Favourites South Korea, who will line up with Son Heung-min leading their attack, will face Qatar today, while the United Arab Emirates play holders Australia.
S. Korea v Qatar
Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 9pm UAE v Australia: 11.55pm