Japan’s Samurai Five have reached the final of the 2022 AFC Futsal Asian Cup after fighting from behind to edge Uzbekistan 2-1 at the Saad Al Abdullah Hall in the semi-final clash on Thursday evening.
Uzbekistan took an early lead when Khamroev Ilkhomjon slotted the ball home in the first period.
However, Japan returned from the break to equalise through captain Arthur Oliveira who fired past the Uzbek goalkeeper before Sora Kanazawa claimed the ultimate goal for the 3-time champions.
Uzbekistan showed early intent with Rakhmatov Anaskhon firing twice at Higor Pires’ post.
Japan captain Arthur Oliveira was firm in defence as he blocked off two attempts at goal with key interceptions in the early moments of the game.
The Samurai Five’s first shot on target almost resulted in the opening goal with skipper Oliveira forcing a spilled save out of goalkeeper Elibaev Ravshan in the 15th minute.
Soon Tomoki Yoshikawa would test the strength of the post with a powerful drive from inside the area.
With 4 minutes left to end the first-period Rakhmatov Anaskhon almost got the first goal when he fired into the Japanese crossbar.
Japan responded with double shots from Kazuya Shimizu and Vinicius Crepaldi with the former hitting the crossbar with his effort from close range.
Ikhtiyor Ropiev should have scored the opener for Uzbekistan in the 17th minute but his effort was stopped by Pires in the Japanese goal.
Just 10 seconds later, Khamroev Ilkhomjon was on hand to score the opening goal of the contest as he connected the ball home from close range.
Once again, the upright denied Uemura Atsuya the opportunity to score for Japan as his effort went into the post.
Two minutes into the second period, Japan drew level through captain Oliveira whose shot went straight into the net with substitute goalkeeper Rustam Umarov rooted to his spot.
Sora Kanazawa was presented with a great chance to increase the tally for Japan when keeper Rustam mistakingly passed the ball into his path.
Japan continued to create more scoring chances after the break with Yoshikawa missing narrowly from a tight angle around the 29th-minute mark.
Uzbekistan No.4 Ropiev weaved his way through the Japanese defence, dribbling 3 defenders in the process before firing across the face of the goal.
In the 30th minute, Kanazawa put Japan into the lead with a close-range tap-in.
Pires expressed his agility to pull a stunning save to keep Japan in the lead with 22 seconds left on the Arena’s clock.
First-period shots stats
Second Period Stats