Japan beat China 3-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Defending champions Japan shattered China's dream of a first ever Asian Cup final victory today, winning the Asia Cup thanks to a controversial goal.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Much to the disappointment of a capacity partisan crowd, defending champions Japan humbled arch-rivals China 3-1 in an emotive but keenly contested Asian Cup final today. The jam-packed Beijing Workers' Stadium went silent thrice during the encounter when Japanese netted goals. The second Japanese goal in the 65th minute appeared to be controversial when the ball went into the net after brushing the hand of Koji Nakata. Keiji Tamada then made victory certain for Japan one minute into the injury time when he dribbled past the Chinese goalkeeper to make it 3-1, ending China's hunt for a major football title in 20 years. The Japan-China match was the fourth meeting between the two sides in the Asian Cup. The East Asian giants have met 19 times since 1975 with Japan winning nine with three drawn matches. At the Asian Cup, the sides have played in two semi-finals and once in the group stage since 1992 with Japan emerging triumphant in all three games. Earlier, midfielder Takashi Fukunishi put Japan 1-0 ahead in the 24th minute when he headed in a pass from Takayuki Suzuki after their talisman Shunsuke Nakamura's free kick left China's defence in disorder. Japan's lead lasted only eight minutes before veteran midfielder Li Ming pulled it even for China as he hit in a well-placed feed from Yan Song who charged down from the left flank. (PTI)