Japan & Vietnam both through

Seichiro Maki scored twice as defending champions Japan marched majestically into the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, outclassing co-hosts Vietnam 4-1 on Monday night.

Seichiro Maki scored twice as defending champions Japan recovered from the shock of conceding an early own goal to march majestically into the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, outclassing co-hosts Vietnam 4-1 at My Dinh National Stadium on Monday night.

The co-hosts took a shock lead when Keita Suzuki put the ball into his own net but Maki chested in the equaliser shortly afterwards before Yasuhito Endo fired home a free-kick to put the Japanese 2-1 up at the break.

Shunsuke Nakamura extended his side's lead in the 53rd minute before Maki netted his second of the game just before the hour to secure top spot in Group B for Ivica Osim's side.

Vietnam also progressed to the last eight as group runners-up after Qatar were beaten 2-1 by United Arab Emirates in a match played simultaneously in Ho Chi Minh City.

Despite opting for a more defensive formation with midfielder Nguyen Minh Chuyen coming in for forward Phan Thanh Binh, the Vietnamese showed little respect for the three-time champions early on, exerting much of the pressure in the opening minutes of the game.

And they would take a surprise lead in the eighth minute when Le Cong Vinh drove in a low corner from the left which Suzuki, under pressure from Phan Van Tai Em, deflected into his own net.

But the goal only served to stir Japan to life and they were back on level terms in the 12th minute following a brilliant piece of skill by Nakamura.

The Celtic player twisted and turned past Nguyen Huy Hoang on the left flank, leaving the Vietnamese defender on the ground before floating in a inviting cross that an unattended Maki chested home at the far post.

The Japanese could have gone ahead four minutes later when another Shunsuke Nakamura cross was headed clear by Vu Nhu Thanh but fell right at the feet of an unmarked Kengo Nakamura who put his snap shot wide from the edge of the box.

The home side were struggling to hold on but they very nearly regained their lead in the 19th minute when a cross-field pass found Nguyen Vu Phong, who fizzed in a fierce shot from the left that went just wide of Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi's goal.

Japan's second would arrive in the 32nd minute after Huy Hoang needlessly conceded a free-kick on the left edge of the Vietnamese box for a sliding challenge on Takahara.

Endo punished the home side by rifling a powerful drive into the back of the net, giving goalkeeper Duong Hong Son no chance.

Vietnam nearly got back on level terms six minutes before the break when a diving Cong Vinh just failed to reach another driven corner by Minh Phuong.

But any hopes that the Indochinese side had of getting back into the game were dashed eight minutes into the second half after a finely constructed goal gave the Japanese a 3-1 lead.

Endo exchanged passes with Yuicho Komano on the left flank before laying the ball off for Shunsuke Nakamura, who picked out the top left corner of the Vietnamese net with a right-footed drive from 20 yards.

Maki then piled further misery on the Vietnamese when he easily headed home an Endo free-kick from the left after losing marker Vu Nhu Thanh.

The game fizzled out in the final half-hour as Japan took off Endo, Maki and Shunsuke Nakamura to rest them for the knockout stage.

But they continued to create the better chances and could have extended their advantage as Takahara and Kengo Nakamura shot wide before Nhu Thanh nearly touched Koki Mizuno's low cross from the right flank into his own net.

But the dismay of the home fans would turn to delight when news filtered through from the south that UAE had come from behind to beat their Gulf rivals, sending Vietnam through to the last eight.
Source PRESS ASSOCIATION