Japan starts Asian Cup with win over Turkmenistan  

Japan’s forward Yuya Osako, left, celebrates after scoring his second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group F soccer match between Japan and Turkmenistan. (AP Photo)

Japan’s quest for a record fifth Asian Cup title got going Wednesday with a 3-2 victory over Turkmenistan. After giving up an early goal, the Japanese scored three in quick succession to turn the game around.

Yuya Osako scored in the 56th and 60th minutes, the latter following a goalkeeping error, and Ritsu Doan made it 3-1 in the 71st. Arslanmurat Amanov scored with a long-range shot to give Turkmenistan _ the Asian Cup’s second-lowest-ranked team _ the lead in the 26th minute. Ahmet Atayev converted a penalty kick toward the end after a foul by Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.

After losing to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup, Japan is trying to rebuild. Coach Hajime Moriyasu left some experienced players off the team for the Asian Cup, including midfielder Shinji Kagawa and forward Shinji Okazaki. He is instead giving more prominence to players like Gonda, whose last competitive international game was in 2013.

Japan is unbeaten in six games since the World Cup, five of those victories.

In the other Group F match, Uzbekistan beat Oman 2-1. Eldor Shomurodov scored the winning goal in the 85th minute. Uzbekistan finished the match with 10 men after defender Egor Krimets was sent off in stoppage time after fouling an opposing player who was through on goal.

After narrowly missing out on qualifying for its first World Cup, Uzbekistan is now seeking to continue its run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at the last four Asian Cups.

Later Wednesday, 2022 World Cup host Qatar will play Lebanon.

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