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Tamada takes Japan into final

JINAN (CHINA), AUG. 3. Keiji Tamada scored two goals including the winner in extra time on Tuesday as defending champion Japan advanced to the Asian Cup soccer final with a comeback 4-3 win over Bahrain.

Underdog Bahrain took the lead twice only for Japan — playing most of the match with 10 men — to equalize each time and then score the decisive goal in extra time.

Bahrain, which had figured in Asia's premier soccer tournament only once before, took a 3-2 lead five minutes from fulltime when substitute Duaij Nasser slotted a shot past Japanese 'keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, sparking a roar from the 32,000 spectators at Shandong Stadium.

But with only seconds left in regulation, Japan's Yuji Nakazawa leveled at 3-3 with a bullet header from the near penalty spot off Alessandro Santos' pass from the left.

Three minutes into extra time, Tamada received a long pass in front of the penalty area after his marker Hussain Baba stumbled and fell.

Tamada made no mistake as he ended his solo run and chipped the ball past an advancing Ali Saeed.

Bahrain's striker A'la Hubail opened the scoring in the 6th minute when he outpaced two defenders inside the penalty area and drove in a pass from Yusuf Talal past a diving Kawaguchi. Both teams played aggressively in the first half and created several dangerous scoring opportunities, including a close range shot by Japan's Keiji Tamada that crashed against the woodwork in the 12th minute. Eight minutes later A'la Hubail fumbled a cross off Talal Jusuf directly in front of the goalmouth, and within moments Japan's forward Takayuki Suzuki missed an identical opportunity in front of Bahrain's goal off a perfect pass by Santos.

Santos delivered another low and hard cross on the half-hour that an unmarked Shunsuke Nakamura shot straight at the 'keeper.

Japan was reduced to 10 players in the 40th minute when Singaporean referee Shamsul Maidin red-carded Yasuhito Endo for punching Mohamed Salmeen in the face as the two collided in midfield. — AP

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