Japan won their fourth Asian Cup, becoming the confederation's most successful nation, defeated Australia in extra time on Saturday, with substitute Tadanari Lee brilliant 109th minute volley giving the Samurai Blue a 1-0 victory. The title is their third AFC title in four Asian Cups, preventing the Socceroos from winning their first Asian title.
Australia will feel hard done by the result, having been the aggressors for the entire match. Japan tried to play off the counter attack but were largely unsuccessful, and with Australia finding success getting into attack with long balls over Japan's high line, much of this match carried the feeling of a "matter of time" before an Australia goal. Still, despite good second half chances for Harry Kewell and Robbie Kruse, the Australians were held at bay by Eiji Kawashima, coming off his line to stymie Kewell's uncontested chance, palming a Kruse header away from the underside of the crossbar.
Japan, intent on building their attacks down the flanks (particularly the left), finally broke through in the second half of extra time. In a built-up that was a near identical to a second half chance that almost saw Shinji Okazaki head Japan in front, left back Yuto Magamoto beat his opposition to the Australian byline before putting a perfect cross into the middle of the penalty area. A near post run from Okazaki drew the defense away from Lee, whose left footed volley into the left side of Mark Schwarzer's net froze the keeper. A technically perfect finish gave Japan their 1-0 lead.
After winning back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2004, Japan slipped to fourth in the 2007 tournament. Coming off a penalty-kick victory over South Korea in the semifinals, Japan looked the more fatigued side during parts of this match, but with a 109th minute goal that will settle prominently in the memory of any Japanese football fan, Tadanari Lee has sent Japan past Saudi Arabia and Iran to become the most successful nation in AFC history.