HANOI (AFP) - Frankfurt forward Naohiro Takahara struck twice as Japan whipped the United Arab Emirates out of Asian Cup contention Friday with a 3-1 win that kept alive their hopes of a third straight title.
Japan, with Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura also scoring, surged to the top of Group B with one win and one draw, level with co-hosts and tournament revelation Vietnam.
The result was a second defeat for the Gulf Cup champions and crushed their bid to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Japan coach Ivica Osim singled out Takahara, who is the current tournament top scorer with three goals, for praise.
"Because of his killer instinct, Takahara is able to play in Germany," said the Bosnian coach, who led the former Yugoslavia to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals.
But Osim was forced to substitute him after an hour on a hot and humid evening, because he complained of pain in his body.
"It may be due to fatigue and not injury. I wish he can play in the next game. If not, I will find another player," the coach said without giving further details on his condition.
Japan and Vietnam will battle it out in their last group match on Monday when a winless UAE face Asian Games gold medalists Qatar.
"We managed to play the game at our pace in this weather and won as a result," Osim said. "We passed the ball around better and made the opponents run."
UAE coach Bruno Metsu, who guided his squad to the Gulf Cup last January, said: "We lost because we were not alert."
Takahara, who scored in the 1-1 draw with Qatar on Monday, headed home a cross from Nakamura who lobbed the ball with a sliding kick from near the touchline in the 22nd minute.
Five minutes later, Takahara bagged his brace, taking a cross from Akira Kaji and volleying it through two defenders into the far corner of the net.
Nakamura gave Japan a 3-0 lead in the 42nd minute, converting a penalty after midfield partner Yasuhito Endo was bundled over by 'keeper Majeed Naser.
The UAE were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute after defender Basheer Saeed was sent off for a sliding tackle on Japanese defensive midfielder Keita Suzuki.
Nakamura's resulting 30-metre free kick found its way into Naser's hands.
The UAE gamely fought on and struck back on the break with a goal in the 66th minute.
Substitute striker Saeed Alkas latched on to a through pass after a nifty run down the middle of the park by Ahmed Mohamed, blasting past veteran Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.
Ismaeil Matar, the Gulf Cup most valuable player with five goals, was a livewire and kept Japan on their toes, with a 15-metre attempt going close in the 70th minute.
But Japan cleverly maintained possession as the clock ticked down and with 10 minutes to go, Endo almost made it 4-1 with a 20-metre drive which Naser collected.
It was Japan's fourth win against two losses and six draws in their head-to-head with the UAE. In their last encounter, Japan lost to the Gulf visitors 1-0 in Tokyo in 2005.
|8||Haider Alo Ali||52'|
|15||Mohamed Al Shehhi|
|Coach: B. Metsu|
for Khalid Darwish 46'
for Essa Ali 46'
for Mohamed Al Shehhi 56'
|Vitoria Guimaraes 1 Sporting Braga 0: Valente header sinks visitors|
|Levante 2 Espanyol 2: Late Victor strike earns struggling hosts a point|
|Football League Review: Middlesbrough edge Norwich in promotion duel, Preston drop points again|
|Nantes 1 Marseille 0: Defensive gaffe leaves visitors´ title challenge in tatters|
|Cambuur 1 Excelsior 1: Record-breaker Ogbeche secures last-gasp draw|
|Eintracht Frankfurt 0 Borussia Monchengladbach 0: Favre´s men held in entertaining draw|
|Arabian Gulf League Review: Al Ain clinch title, Al Jazira humbled by local rivals Bani Yas|
|PSG welcome reduction to Ibrahimovic ban|
|Fournier anticipates improved derby showing from Lyon|
|Anti-Ashley fan protest could inspire Newcastle - Pochettino|
|Toure to stay at City - Pellegrini|
|Newcastle United v Tottenham: Carver pins hopes on Coloccini amid fan boycott plans|
|Manchester City v West Ham: Pellegrini calls for unity|
|Newport terminate Zebroski contract after conviction|
|El Ouriachi nears Stoke switch|
|Inter v Milan: Shaqiri upbeat ahead of first derby|
|Aston Villa v Liverpool: All eyes on Gerrard ahead of Wembley return|
|Sturridge to be given ´every possibility´ to get fit|
|Agbonlahor could make semi-final|
|Simeone: Forget about the Champions League|
|PSG captain Silva to miss Nice game|
|Pellegrini ´not hurt´ by Klopp speculation|
|Mourinho plays down United injury worries|
|A-League Review: Sydney, Phoenix keep hopes up in thrillers|
|Pellegrini fears Kompany´s season may be over|
|Costa in contention for Arsenal clash|
|Title possible but not logical for Van Gaal|
|Iniesta ruled out of Valencia visit|
|Van Gaal searching for answer to United injury ´puzzle´|
|Allardyce backs Koeman for managerial gong|
|Benzema to miss Malaga clash|
|Juventus v Lazio ´a Scudetto game´ - Allegri|
|Guardiola insists he is going nowhere|
|Bolasie worth £20million - Pardew|
|Newcastle fans to feed ducks during Spurs protest|
|Bayern confirm Muller-Wohlfahrt resignation|
|Balotelli most-targeted player for hate crimes on social media|
|Ancelotti: No calls from Manchester City|
|Pardew revels in ´a tremendous season´|
|Watzke hopes for swift Dortmund appointment|
|Atleti a different beast under Simeone, says Forlan|
|Di Maria suspension behind United resurgence, claims Scholes|
|Mertesacker hopes Klopp takes foreign challenge|
|Dyche demands diving answers|
|Skrtel ready for Benteke test|
|Mertesacker: Arsenal should manage Wembley pressure|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Wanderers advance, Palestino miss out|
|New York City 1 Philadelphia Union 1: Another late show frustrates hosts|
|Webb re-elected as CONCACAF president|
|Emery wary of Russia trip|
|Terry ´no chance´ of England return - Capello|
|Fatigue hurt us - Villas-Boas|
|Benitez praises ´spectacular´ Napoli|
|Brugge captain Simons accepts goalless draw|
|Boubacar targets Europa League glory after late leveller|
|Hamsik surprised by Napoli dominance|
|Sevilla 2 Zenit 1: Subs win it for Spaniards|
|Dynamo Kiev 1 Fiorentina 1: Super-sub Babacar saves visitors|
|Club Brugge 0 Dnipro 0: Honours even after absorbing first leg|
|Wolfsburg 1 Napoli 4: Benitez handed perfect birthday present|
|Muller-Wohlfahrt resigns Bayern role|
|Barcelona v Valencia: Leaders primed for stiff La Liga test|
|Fenerbahce win on return after bus attack|
|Ligue 1 to adopt goalline technology|
|Iniesta back in training despite bruising|
|Juventus v Lazio: Replicate Monaco win, urges Pirlo|
|Parma handed further points deduction|
|Wenger surprised by FA Cup scheduling|
|Leicester City v Swansea City: Survival is realistic, says Pearson|
|Everton v Burnley: Dyche wants to play with freedom|
|Ideye a concern for Palace clash|
|Crystal Palace v West Brom: Pulis not surprised by Palace form|
|Chelsea v Manchester United: Leaders attempt to go 10 points clear|
|Stoke City v Southampton: Koeman focused on points not records|
|Rodriguez could play in Southampton´s final game|
|Reading v Arsenal: Wenger talks of lessons learned ahead of FA Cup semi|
|Villa have to prioritise survival over Cup - Vassell|
|Nice v Paris-Saint Germain: Blanc draws a line under Barca defeat|
|Wijnaldum would welcome Van Gaal reunion|
|Championship Preview: Neil wants Carrow Road cauldron, Bournemouth face Wednesday|
|Arsenal defeat to Reading would be astonishing - McLintock|
|Monk flattered by West Ham link|
|Koeman: Clyne right to have Champions League ambition|
|Real Madrid v Malaga: Torres braced for challenging Bernabeu return|
|Oscar wary of United and insists title race is not over|
|Borussia Dortmund v Paderborn: Klopp rubbishes talk of ´farewell tour´|
|Kehl sidelined for two weeks with broken rib|
|Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich: Leaders urged to wake up after Euro defeat|
|Gisdol signs new Hoffenheim deal|
|Deportivo La Coruna v Atletico Madrid: Simeone´s men continue battle for third|
|Lahm plotting Bayern fightback|
|Oscar: Hazard the best in the Premier League|
|Rakitic eager to put on Camp Nou show|
|League Two Preview: Burton on the cusp of promotion|
|Wenger hopeful of Walcott stay|
|Oscar not seeking Chelsea exit|
|Martinez coy on Cleverley link|
|Gomis out for four weeks|
|MLS Preview: Kreis demands ´not so nice´ City|
|Serie A Preview: Abate motivated for Milan derby, Juve face Lazio in table-topping clash|
|League One Preview: Bristol City eye title|
|Bundesliga Preview: Klopp begins long goodbye, Hamburg turn to Labbadia|
|Lambert: Klopp may snub Premier League|
|Perth Glory CEO quits following disqualification|
|Copa Libertadores Review: The Strongest, Santa Fe enjoy wins|
|La Liga Preview: Valencia eye victory over Barca|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Marseille hopeful of top-three finish|
|United States 2 Mexico 0: Hosts scrap to win|
|A-League Preview: Victory close in on Premier´s Plate|
|Markevych: Dnipro can win the Europa League|
|United States 2-0 Mexico: Morris and Agudelo score as Americans scrap for win|
|Dynamo Kiev look for goals against Fiorentina|
|Injuries a concern for Preud´homme|
|Villas-Boas plays down injury worries|
|Benitez wanted Wolfsburg trio|
|Porto quality no surprise to Guardiola|
|Blanc counting on returning stars for second leg|
|Lopetegui issues warning after first-leg victory|