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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Japan retain Asian Cup
Japanese players celebrate after Takashi Fukunishi scores Japan's first goal
Japanese players celebrate after taking the lead

Defending champions Japan have beaten host nation China 3-1 to retain the Asian Cup in Beijing.

China made the better start to the match, but found themselves behind against the run of play after 22 minutes.

Wei Xin fouled Nakamura, who whipped in a dangerous free kick and Takashi Fukunishi headed in from close range after a knockdown from Takayuki Suzuki.

But a quarter of an hour later, midfielder Li Ming restored parity when he swept home a superb left-foot shot after good work from Yan Song.

Japan restored their lead mid-way through the second half through Koji Nakata, despite the midfielder appearing to use his hand when bundling home Shunsuke Nakamura's corner.

And Keiji Tamada sealed victory with a third goal for Japan in injury time, to give the scoreline a flattering look.

China had forced Japanese keeper Kawaguchi into making a pair of excellent saves at full stretch just two minutes before as they pressed for an equaliser.

The home fans vented their fury after the final whistle and the Japanese players were loudly booed, as they had been during their national anthem, while they celebrated.




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