Three second half goals from Samurai Blue were enough to see-off tournament favourites Iran as Japan prepare for their fifth final in the past eight Asian Cups.
Iran 0-3 Japan: Asian Cup, as it happened
Thanks for your time today as Japan see off Iran with a 3-0 win.
Japan march on and must be the favourite in Friday's final. We'll have live minute by minute coverage of tomorrow's second semi final as hosts UAE face Qatar at the same time (1500 CET).
A sad exit for Iran, Team Melli have been excellent in this tournament to date as time is called. It's Japan who progress to the final. Japan's fifth final in the past 8th tournaments.
Frustration as a skirmish breaks out as the match official calls for calm. Tempers fraying from the Iran players as the ref. cards Azmoun.
Iran 0-3 Japan
Haraguchi seals it ....3-0
90' Qatar or UAE await Japan in the final
89' Last minute here in Abu Dhabi. The curtain is close to coming down on Team Melli's adventure in the Emirates...4 minutes of time to be added.
88' Tomiyasu has been a rock at the back for Japan, dealing with everything Team Melli have thrown at the defender today. Ghoddos tries his luck from long range and to be honest Iran have lacked any cohesive play after the Japan goals
85' 5' to go. Time running out for Team Melli. The moment the Iran defenders stopped in their tracks ahead of the first goal certainly the turning point in this contest. A terrible lack of attention from the men in white and could prove to be the undoing of Iran at the tournament.
82' Great ball as Azmoun looks to pounce on an excellent whipped ball in from the left. The ball breaks and the Rubin striker just fails to secure contact. Iran now probing, launching balls into the box as Japan counter.
81' Mainly the Japan fans creating the noise now at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium as Team Melli fans sense that time is not on their side.
79' Iran need that goal now. The emotional boost for Team Melli could be massive but it's Japan that continue to threaten.
78' 2011 was the last year Japan claimed the Asian Cup, 1976 Iran´s last win.
76' Quieroz looking anxious here in Abu Dhabi. Japan in control.
Dangerous free awarded to Iran. Azmoun has been really quiet in this half with little goal threat from the Iranian strikers. What can Team Melli produce here ? Ball drifts into the box but easy for the Japan defence to clear.
75' Team Melli fans starting to find their voice again to rally their men as we head into the final 15'. Is this Carlos Quieroz's final quarter of an hour as Iran manager?
73' Doan breaks into the Iran box and fires a left footed effort straight at Beiranvand.
72' Can Iran claw their way back into this contest? Team Melli need a quick goal as Sakai is replaced by Muroya for Japan (Defender for defender)
Dejagah & Jahanbakhsh the players replaced by Quieroz.
70' Samurai Blue playing with added confidence as Iran are on the ropes. Osako now on a hat-trick
69' Iran rattled as Quieroz gives final instructions to the two men set to take to the pitch.
67' Change for Iran: Ghoddos and Troabi to come on for Team Melli
Penalty awarded. Japan given a great chance to go two ahead. Osako to take and tucks the ball away .... Iran 0-2 Japan
Chris Beath now looking at a screen to attest if a spot kick is the result.
63' Ref blows for a spot kick, Iran protest. VAR to be consulted. Hand ball from Pouraliganji... ball to hand ? difficult call
Penalty for Japan
61' 30' to go ... First goal Iran have shipped a goal at this Asian Cup (2019). Jahanbakhsh forces an excellent save from Gonda with the ball heading for the top corner. Excellent stop from the Portimonense stopper.
60' Japan change: Shiotani on-Endo off
Amiro off and Karim Ansarifard on for Team Melli
IR Iran 0-1 Japan
Osaka with the goal
Iran switch off as Japan have the ball in the net. Minamino is down but the ref gives nothing and delivers a fine cross which is nodded home
55' Goal ..Japan take the lead
53' Iran certianly in the stronger position as we move towards the 55 minute mark. Team Melli the more settled side in the second half as Quieroz gives instructions to Karim Ansarifard who is poised to make an entrance tonight.
51' Haji Safi again from long range, but as with his previous effort the ball drifts high and over the bar.
49' Corner for Team Melli as Japan have yet to get the ball into the opposing half.
48' Iran bossing the game with Japan looking rusty after the interval
47' Dangerous free for Iran following the handball. Right on the edge of the box. Haji Safi over the ball but Dejagah also poised... In the end it's the Tractor Sazi midfielder who pulls the ball wide.
46'+0' Card for Sakai for a hand ball
The teams take to the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Who will strike first? A single goal may be enough today to seal a place in Friday's final. Off we go ...Iran start.
Despite limited goal scoring chances, the first 45' has been bright and pacey with both sides enjoying spells of clear domination. Azmoun is a constant threat for Team Melli and the Rubin Kazan striker has been closest to finding the target. All to play for in the second period here in Abu Dhabi.
HT: IR Iran 0-0 Japan
45'+2' Dangerous free as Brighton player Alireza Jahanbakhsh is fouled by Endo. Last action of the half... Can Iran make it count? No is the answer as the ball is cleared and the ref. calls time.
44' Two over the ball for Japan...40 yards out, Gaku takes but easily dealt with by Iran. 2 minutes of time to be added.
Card for Ebrahimi as he goes in "studs-up"
43' Haji Safi from long range but fails to get the ball on target.
41' Free-kick for Iran.. High line from Japan as Dejagah to take.... Japan manage to clear the danger
39' Iran do look solid at the back but seem over reliant on the long ball towards Azmoun. Japan need to avoid the long ball with the aerial battles all going the way of the men in white.
Play held up as Japan have a player on the pitch injured. Osako winded it would appear. We're back in action as Nagatomo lofts in a dangerous ball that fails to find a man in blue. Japan now enjoying a spell of pressure.
32' Ball punted forward and Azmoun battles two Japan defenders but the ball is plucked from the air by Gonda in the orange keepers shirt. The Rubin Kazan striker looking menacing this afternoon and has indeed during the entire competition.
31' Chris Beath (Australia) is the match official today as he has a word with Azmoun.
30' 30 minutes in and the tide has swung towards the men in white now as Japan are forced to defend from constant Team Melli pressure.
28' Winners of tonight's contest will face the victor from the other semi-final as hosts UAE face Qatar. Danger for Japan as they face another Iran corner. Headed away by the impressive Tomiyasu. Iran starting to dominate now !
26' Japan's forward Takumi Minamino (C) is marked by Iran's defender Ehsan Haji Safi (2nd-L) during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup semi-final football match between Iran and Japan at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
Sakai still on the ground after the challenge.
25' Card for Amiri for a reckless challenge.
23' Call for a penalty from the Iran players as once again Azmoun falls in the box. Correct decison from the official.
21' Huge chants of Iran, Iran as Azmoun blazes the ball just past the post with the Japan keeper getting a foot to then ball. Best chance of the evening for Team Melli.
20' Iran 0-0 Japan (after 20 minutes) ...Japan shading proceedings ....
18' The game nicely poised... Japan enjoying the bulk of the play but Iran looking solid at the back as Japan fire a shot that goes just inches wide ...Doan with the strike as Beiranvand well beaten.
17' Japan corner....Gaku to take .... Yoshida heads over and once again another massive throw out from Iran's keeper Beiranvand
Possession: Iran 39-61 Japan (%)
...and the Samurai Blue starters:
The Team Melli XI ahead of the match:
13' Chance for Japan as they tear through the Iran defence. Great run from Nagatomo as he cuts the ball back and it's bundled away for a goal kick for Iran. Good work from Japan on the left flank.
10' Azmoun breaks but an excellent interception from Tomiyasu steers the ball away from danger. One of the great hopes for Japanese football the current St. Truiden defender.
10' The game still yet to develop a steady pattern with both teams enjoying passages of early play. Neither goalkeeper yet to be called into action.
8' Carlos Quieroz giving instructions from the bench. Is his time as Team Melli coach coming to an end with rumours linking the former Real Madrid with the Colombian national team?
6' A few aimless balls from the Iran midfield looking for the pace of Azmoun but both poorly directed. Japan enjoying the better of the early stage but once again a poor final ball was the undoing of the move.
4' Chants of Ira-n, Ira-n ring out from the Team Melli fans as Japan give away a cheap free-kick. Osako backing into Rezaeian.
A mighty impressive "Iceland Viking" clap ringing out here at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium. Decent noise level here in Abu Dhabi.
2' Beiranvand's throws have become one of the talking points and a great weapon for Team Melli at the Asian Cup as Gonda is called into action in the Japan goal with Azmoun lurking.
1' Japan apply early pressure and once again a massive throw from the Iran keeper Beiranvand.
1' Countdown is on and off we go ... Japan start the action
Not a totally full house in the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi) but a decent crowd nonetheless. Plenty of Team Melli fans as they look for their first triumph since 1976
It's Coldplay time as kick-off looms. The VAR booth is manned too. Remember, we've had the VAR system in place from the 1/4 stage.
A balmy 28C currently in Abu Dhabi as kick-off looms.
Japan will also be in their traditional "home" kit of all blue.
Iran will wear their classic all white kit today.
The Ultra Nippon fans are present at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi) and destined to be a focal point of the noise eminating from the Japan fans today.
Ever wondered...why on earth does the Japan football shirt feature a crow... You're not alone ! Here's the reason via The Japan Chronicles.
Both Japan and Iran have won the Asian Cup on a total of seven times with Japan's last win coming in 2011. Iran have lifted the trophy three times, the last win for Tesam Melli being in 1976.
Today's semi-final will be the fourth Asian Cup meeting between Team Melli & Samurai Blue, with their other three encounters coming in the group stages, Iran failing to score on each occasion, drawing two and losing one game. The last competitive meeting between both sides was an international friendly in October 2015 which ended 1-1.
Japan fans at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi) with kick-off looming.
Iran XI: Beiranvand; Rezaeian, Pouraliganji, Kanani, Mohammadi; Ebrahim, Amiri, Hajsafi; Jahanbakhsh, Dejagah & Azmoun.
Hello and welcome to our live AFC Asian Cup 2019 action as Iran face Japan in semi-final #1. The game gets underway at 1500 CET.
Iran vs Japan: preview
Key Iran-Japan facts:
- This will be the fourth Asian Cup meeting between Iran and Japan, with their other three encounters coming in the group stages, Iran failing to score on each occasion (D2 L1).
- Iran and Japan's three Asian Cup clashes have seen just one goal scored, Japan's Kazuyoshi Miura netting the winner in 1992 to secure a 1-0 victory for the Samurai Blue.
- Iran have reached the semi-finals of the Asian Cup for the first time since the 2004 edition – however, they have failed to progress from each of their last five semi-finals, with three of those eliminations coming via penalty shoot-outs.
- Japan have made it to the semi-finals in five of the last six Asian Cup tournaments (2000, 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2019), with the only exception coming in 2015 – their only defeat at this stage of the competition came in 2007, a 3-2 loss against Saudi Arabia.
- Iran last made it to the final of the Asian Cup back in 1976, when they won the tournament for a third consecutive occasion (1968, 1972 and 1976).
- Japan have lost just one of their last 33 games at the Asian Cup since the start of the 2000 tournament (W23 D9 L1) and are unbeaten in the competition since a 3-2 defeat against Saudi Arabia in the 2007 semi-finals (P16 W12 D4 L0 since).
Iran-Japan: what they said
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said the description of his side as favourites to win the Asian Cup was an "ill-fitting tag" as he prepares to face Japan in the semi-final without three-goal forward Mehdi Taremi.
Queiroz claimed Team Melli had achieved their tournament objective after Taremi scored the opening goal in a 3-0 quarter-final victory over China to help them reach the competition's last four for the ninth time.
"Our dream has always been to be in the middle of the top teams in the final four, something which we have now done and are very happy about," said the 65-year-old told. "In front of us we have just another game. Of course, the game has added significance in terms of enthusiasm and excitement, but when the whistle goes you simply have to play."
Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu welcomes Yoshinori Muto back after he served a suspension and the Newcastle United forward will add much-needed creativity to the low-scoring Samurai Blue. Moriyasu's men won each of their last four games by a one-goal margin, but he said his players are on a learning curve.
"The approach will be based on our opponents, but we have learnt so much in the Asian Cup," said Moriyasu, before learning Japan would face Iran at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
"We have had to defend, as was the case against Saudi Arabia [1-0 victory in the round of 16] and sometimes we dominated but couldn't find a way through. "These experiences will be used to prepare the team for the semi-final."
Players to watch:
Sardar Azmoun (Iran)
Rubin Kazan forward Azmoun has lived up to his billing as Iran's attacking talisman, scoring four goals across the tournament so far including their second in the quarter-final win over China.
Yoshinuri Muto (Japan)
Japan's tournament got off to a poor start when they fell behind against Uzbekistan in their opening match, but Muto equalised three minutes later and his cool head will be essential as they aim to reach the final.