Saints’ Maya Yoshida reached the Asian Cup 2019 final on Monday afternoon courtesy of a comprehensive 3-0 win for his Japan side over Iran in Al-Ain.
Yuya Osako’s brace – the striker’s third and fourth goals of the tournament – laid the foundations for Japan who will face either Qatar or hosts United Arab Emirates on Friday 1 February.
The Samurai Blue burst into life in the second half having laboured to get going before in the interval with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand not facing a single shot on goal.
Osako’s header changed that on 56 minutes before the forward doubled up from the penalty spot following a VAR review for handball, breaking Iranian hearts and their run of four consecutive clean sheets in their run to the semi-finals.
Genki Haraguchi’s strike in stoppage time sent the Japanese through at the expense of their most dangerous rivals in style.