Yuya Osako led Japan to a comeback win in their opening game at the Asian Cup. The Werder Bremen forward scored a quick brace to reverse a deficit against Turkmenistan while Uzbekistan and Qatar also won on Wednesday.
Japan 3 - 2 Turkmenistan
(Osako 56', 60', Doan 71' - Amanov 26', Atayev pen 79')
Japan were given a scare in their opening Group F match in Abu Dhabi after Arslan Amanov's ferocious long-range drive into the top corner put the Blue Samurai 1-0 down on 26 minutes.
However, Werder Bremen striker Yuya Osako produced a smart turn and finish inside the box to equalize for Japan 10 minutes into the second half. Four minutes later he doubled his tally, scoring into an open net after a mix-up between keeper Mammet Orazmuhammedow and defender Mekan Saparov.
Ritsu Doan's deflected shot produced a third for Japan after 70 minutes. But Ahmet Atayev scored from the spot 11 minutes from time to make it a nervous finish for the Japanese, who are now unbeaten in six matches since Hajime Moriyasu took over as coach following last summer's World Cup in Russia.
"The good thing today was we won and could deliver the victory to our supporters here in the United Arab Emirates and back home," Moriyasu said afterwards. "Looking at our performance in attack and defence we need to improve for the next game (against Oman on Sunday)."
Turkmenistan are the only side to get to the tournament despite having a negative goal difference in qualifying and they have never won a game at the Asian Cup.
Now their coach Yazguly Hojageldiyew, is hoping they can produce their maiden win at the tournament against Uzbekistan on Sunday.
"We're certainly not out of the competition yet and the next game is very important for us as well," he said.
Uzbekistan 2 - 1 Oman 1
(Ahmedov 34', Shomurodov 86' - Al-Ghassani 72')
Also on Wednesday, history was made in the other Group F game as Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov played in a 2-1 win over Oman in Sharjah. This made him the first player to appear at five Asian Cups.
Substitute Eldor Shomurodov scored the late winner for 10-man Uzbekistan after captain Odil Ahmedov's opener was canceled out by Muhsen Al Ghassani.
Qatar 2 - 0 Lebanon
(Al-Rawi 65, Ali 79)
The final game of the day came in group E where World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar labored a little before finally seeing off Lebanon.
It took an impressive Bassam Al Rawi's free kick to break down a stubborn Lebanese side before Al Moez Ali made the final period of the game safe.
That match completed the first round of group stage games, with Bahrain and Thailand, beginning the second round on Thursday.
pfd/mp (AFP, dpa)