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Osako double triggers 3-2 Japan comeback at Asian Cup

AFP  |  Abu Dhabi 

netted a quickfire double as former champions survived a scare to beat 3-2 in their Asian Cup opener on Wednesday.

The Blue Samurai reached the last 16 at last year's but had to fight back from a goal down at halftime in an absorbing Group F clash in

put the plucky 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 10 minutes into the second half following sustained pressure from the four-time Asian champions.

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

added a deflected third after 70 minutes as began to wilt.

But swept home a penalty 11 minutes from time to ensure a nervous finish for Japan, who are now unbeaten in six matches since took charge after

The Japanese are seeking to make up for their Asian Cup flop four years ago when they lost on penalties to in the quarter-finals.

But with a little luck Turkmenistan could easily have inflicted a major shock.

The Emeralds should arguably have been three up by halftime after Mekan Saparov headed over from point-blank range and an Atayev rocket forced Japan into a brilliant reflex save.

"I was actually surprised how well we did in the first half," said Turkmenistan

"We lost our way a bit in the second half, but we're not out of it yet. We'll give everything in the next two games."

Japan, only kept out of quarter-finals by a stunning comeback from two goals down, have now lost just one of their last 29 games at the Asian Cup, excluding penalty shootouts.

But they will need to improve if they are to threaten favourites -- 5-0 winners over earlier this week -- and a side soon to be boosted by the arrival of Tottenham forward

"The first match is always a bit special and we expected a battle," said Moriyasu.

"Obviously we're happy to get the three points but we have a lot of things to work on for the next game." were playing in the other Group F fixture in Sharjah later on Wednesday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 09 2019. 20:35 IST