Yuya Osako

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Asian Cup wrap: Japan survives, Qatar wins

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In Asian Cup action earlier today, Group F got its group stage play under way, as one of the favorites was forced to hold on at the end.

Japan took on Turkmenistan in Abu Dhabi, and it was quite the wire-to-wire scare for one of the stronger teams in the field. Turkmenistan went in front on the game’s opening goal just before the half-hour mark as Arslanmurat Amanov unleashed a beautiful strike from outside the box.

It was Turkmenistan’s lead into halftime, but it wouldn’t last long out of the break as Werder Bremen striker Yuya Osako first brought Japan level in the 56th minute with a great move in the box before a tap-in four minutes later put them 2-1 in front. 20-year-old Ritsu Doan picked up the eventual winner, scoring in the 71st minute on a big deflection to put Japan up 3-1.

That would prove vital, as Turkmenistan halved the deficit through a penalty converted by 34-year-old Ahmet Atayev with just 11 minutes remaining, and while they fought for an equalizer, Japan held them off through the final whistle.

The three points would bring Japan level with Uzbekistan atop Group F, with Uzbekistan winning 2-1 over Oman on goals from Ahmedov Ofil and Eldor Shomurodov, with the latter’s winner coming in the 85th minute on a close-range effort inside the near-post that Oman goalkeeper Faiz Al-Rushaidi will want to have back.

Finally, Qatar put itself in a good early position with a 2-0 win over Lebanon on second-half goals from Bassam Hisham and Moez Ali. Hisham’s 65th minute strike came on a well-struck free-kick from just outside the top of the box, while Ali added on in the 79th minute with an open-net tap-in after pouncing on a save forced by Abdelaziz Hatim.

USMNT’s Sargent scores again

Carmen Jaspersen/dpa via AP, file
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American teenager Josh Sargent scored the second goal of his Bundesliga career, giving Werder Bremen an equalizer at RB Leipzig on Saturday.

RBL led 2-0 at halftime through Lukas Klostermann and Timo Werner, but Bremen began to get it going in the second half.

[ WATCH: Townsend’s Goal of Season contender ]

Max Kruse’s deflected strike made it 2-1 in the 67th, a minute after the visitors put the 18-year-old Sargent into the match.

Sargent got his own marker in the 77th, running into space to earn a terrific pass from Yuya Osako and pull Bremen level with a fine finish inside the far post. RBL has since retaken the lead.

The run and the shot are equal parts encouraging, as the stage has not proved too big for the USMNT forward.