HANOI, July 16 (Reuters) - Holders Japan stormed into the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a clinical 4-1 demolition of co-hosts Vietnam on Monday.
But Vietnam, appearing in the tournament for the first time
in 47 years, joined Japan in the last eight after Qatar lost
2-1 to United Arab Emirates in the other Group B game.
'I'm still not satisfied,' Japan coach Ivica Osim told
reporters. 'If I was satisfied then I might as well just quit
Japan's reward for finishing top of their group is a grudge
quarter-final against Australia, who avoided an early exit with
a 4-0 win over Thailand in Bangkok later on Monday.
A Keita Suzuki own goal put Vietnam ahead after just seven
minutes and triggered riotous celebrations among a crowd of
40,000, but it took Japan just five minutes to restore normal
Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura found space on the left
to float over a perfect cross for Seiichiro Maki, who had the
simple task of chesting the ball into an open goal.
Yasuhito Endo put Japan ahead just after the half hour,
rifling a free kick into the top corner from the edge of the
box to briefly silence Vietnam's trumpet-blowing fans.
Nakamura added a third seven minutes into the second half
with a superb right-foot strike before Maki headed in his
second from close range in the 59th minute.
Maki told Reuters Japan were happy to get the opportunity
to avenge their 3-1 defeat by the Socceroos at last year's
World Cup in Germany.
'If we'd have a choice of opponents, Australia would have
been first on the list,' he smiled. 'That's the team we wanted
to meet and have the chance to bury those ghosts.'
When news of UAE's win over Qatar in Ho Chi Minh filtered
through, Hanoi's My Dinh stadium erupted in a deafening roar as
Vietnamese fans began to celebrate wildly.
'It's a sensation,' beamed Vietnam coach Alfred Riedl.
'Nobody expected us to be in the quarter-finals. It's the first
time Vietnam's history.
'I'm extremely proud of my players and maybe Vietnam will
Japan, bidding for a third straight title, finished top of
Group B on seven points with Vietnam runners-up on four. UAE
were third on three points with Qatar on two.
Japan play Group A runners-up Australia in Hanoi on
Saturday, while Vietnam travel to Bangkok to face Iraq.