Qatar earned a share of the spoils with defending champions Japan when Sebastian Quintana scored with just two minutes remaining to hand the Asian Games gold medallists a 1-1 draw at My Dinh Stadium on Monday evening
The Uruguay-born forward hit a free kick from the edge of the Japanese penalty area that was deflected past goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi by the defensive wall, cancelling out Naohiro Takahara’s opener in the 61st minute.
Japan coach Ivica Osim will feel as if his team squandered two points after dominating for much of the game against a Qatar team that opted to take on a defensive stance throughout the match.
A cagey opening was compounded by Qatar coach Dzemaludin Musovic’s decision to pack his back line, a tactic that frustrated the three-time winners, who dominated possession but were unable to break through.
Despite Japan’s position of strength, it was the Qataris who carved out the first chance of the game, forcing Kawaguchi into a save in the 17th minute when Mohammad Gholam struck a free kick and the Jubilo Iwata goalkeeper punched the ball clear.
Four minutes later, Shunsuke Nakamura went for goal only for his attempt to be blocked by a Qatari defender.
After the break, Musovic introduced Majdi Siddiq for Mesaad Al Hamad, and the Al Khor midfielder presented an initial threat, playing a one-two with Quintana only for the Japanese defence to snuff out any promise that the move may have held.
However, Japan eventually reclaimed control of the game and in the 57th minute they came close to opening the scoring when Satoru Yamagishi fired over the bar after Takahara’s knock-down found him unmarked eight yards from goal.
Four minutes later, though, Japan were in front. Yasuyuki Konno latched on to a through ball from Kengo Nakamura on the left side of the box before sending a low cross with the outside of his right foot to Takahara at the far post, and the Eintracht Frankfurt man made no mistake.
In the 81st minute, Quintana, who operated alone up front for most of the game, threatened the Japanese goal with a free kick which was just over the bar.
But seven minutes later he had more luck after he was impeded by Yuki Abe and he picked himself up off the turf to fire through the wall and past Kawaguchi.
The game ended on a sour note for the Qataris, however, when Hussein Yasser was sent off for a lunge at Hideo Hashimoto and coach Musovic was also sent to the stands for protesting too loudly over the call.