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'
|Guardiola asks me for more, more, more - Aguero happy to fight on at Manchester City|
|It was like ice hockey - Monaco vice-president stunned by Champions League clash|
|Proud Griezmann eyes more Atletico history|
|Toure marvels at Caballero heroics in Manchester City-Monaco thriller|
|Buffon hopes to play well against Casillas|
|Schmidt: It is easy to see how Atletico Madrid have reached two finals in three years|
|Falcao penalty miss was key – Jardim|
|Guardiola: If one team can score a thousand, million goals it is Monaco|
|Griezmann hails ´brilliant´ Gameiro as Atletico see off Leverkusen|
|Simeone all smiles after Atletico dismantle Leverkusen|
|Spot-kick revision pays off for Caballero|
|Championship Review: Huddersfield boost top-two hopes, Wednesday beaten|
|Toprak laments bad result as Leverkusen lose at home to Atletico|
|Aguero grapples for glory as strikers shine in Manchester City v Monaco|
|Bayer Leverkusen 2 Atletico Madrid 4: Simeone´s side in control|
|Manchester City 5 Monaco 3: Guardiola´s side prevail in all-time classic|
|AFC Champions League Review: Al Rayyan and Al Ahli off to winning starts|
|Ranieri: Sevilla game can be a turning point for Leicester|
|Allegri confirms Bonucci absence after row|
|Nuno confident Porto can beat Juventus|
|Matthaus encourages Gotze to stay at Dortmund|
|Martial: I love Manchester United and I want to stay|
|I would never force out Manchester United legend Rooney - Mourinho|
|Anderlecht insist Tielemans not leaving on the cheap|
|Leicester can´t afford to live in the past, warns Sampaoli|
|Porto´s home comforts, shot-shy Leicester & Sevilla meet - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Puyol backs Barcelona for Champions League miracle|
|Sutton´s pie-munching keeper Shaw resigns|
|Coyle leaves struggling Blackburn|
|Sampaoli noncommittal on Sevilla future despite contract offer|
|Higuain backs Dybala to become ´among the best in the world´|
|Ancelotti escapes punishment for middle finger|
|Pie-eating Sutton goalkeeper´s antics under investigation|
|AFC Champions League Review: 2014 winners Wanderers thrashed, Hulk inspires 10 men|
|Zidane reveals Ronaldo´s favourite position|
|Lippi backs Allegri for Juve stay|
|Zidane: Isco knows I love him|
|Rooney returns to United training|
|Higuain confident Juventus can win Champions League|
|Giggs the dream pro-am partner for Manchester United fanatic McIlroy|
|Kane hopes Spurs can get used to Wembley|
|Hazard: I gave everything to come back|
|Like Cantona, Ibrahimovic embraces United pressure - Giggs|
|Wenger: Perez deserves more chances|
|Wenger denies using Sanchez was risky|
|Tite: I wish Messi was born in Brazil|
|Jardim praises ´great striker´ Falcao|
|Reported Barcelona target Sampaoli offered Sevilla extension|
|´Angry´ Messi didn´t celebrate because of criticism – Bauza|
|´He is going to have to do it himself´ – Guardiola backs Aguero|
|Toure backs Sterling and Sane for the top|
|Pique: Barcelona were in deep s*** when Luis Enrique arrived|
|Thoughts of Bayern mauling stopped Wenger from enjoying Arsenal FA Cup win|
|Sutton United 0 Arsenal 2: Perez and Walcott break minnows´ stern resolve|
|Walcott brings up 100 goals for Arsenal|
|Simeone will make late Oblak call for Leverkusen clash|
|AFC Champions League Review: In-form El Arabi gives Lekhwiya dream start, Diop saves Al Ahli|
|Fabinho disagrees with Guardiola over favourites tag|
|Guardiola hails Bielsa as best in the world|
|Jardim insists Monaco will not change style for Manchester City clash|
|Clattenburg´s Premier League career not over yet|
|Dortmund could renew Tuchel deal|
|Chicharito return to form boosts Schmidt´s Leverkusen for Atletico test|
|Iniesta sees Verratti as his successor - Matuidi|
|Ramos did not make history at Sevilla like me - Alves questions Real Madrid captain|
|Vertonghen feels Tottenham deserve silverware|
|Agent denies Lucas Perez exit claims|
|Barcelona forward Neymar to stand trial after losing appeal|
|City history can´t compare to United, Liverpool – De Bruyne wants to make Champions League impressio|
|Europa League the priority for United´s Mata as EFL Cup final looms|
|Winning the FA Cup ´may not save Wenger´|
|Falcao perfect for ´killers´ Monaco - Guardiola wary of Champions League threat to Manchester City|
|Ancelotti asked to explain middle finger gesture|
|Ribery closing in on Bayern Munich return|
|Nani eager for improving Valencia to tackle Real Madrid|
|Rashford eyes Chelsea revenge after huge FA Cup draw|
|Glorious Griezmann and Aguero´s knockout drought - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Otamendi´s agent talks up Real Madrid switch|
|He has to get used to it – Montella reacts to Bacca boos|
|Low hopes to discover Germany´s Luis Suarez|
|Mourinho unsure if Rooney will recover for EFL Cup final|
|Rami rejects talk of Marseille switch|
|Tarnat tips Manchester City´s Sane to become Germany star|
|I don´t see why he should quit - Begovic tips Terry to continue|
|PSG ´weakened´ without Ibrahimovic, claims Monaco´s Bakayoko|
|Low believes in ´locksmith´ Gotze|
|No pain, no gain for Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Barcelona have no idea how to treat players - Dani Alves slams Camp Nou board|
|Low: Germany´s youngsters must be good enough to beat Messi and Ronaldo|
|Mandorlini replaces Juric at Genoa|
|Liverpool could face ´new´ Leicester – Klopp|
|Corchia excited by Bielsa arrival but Lille future remains uncertain|
|Wenger: I threw up after first loss as coach|
|Conte wants fairytale finish for Terry|
|Iniesta: Barcelona haven´t lost faith in Luis Enrique|
|Mourinho knew Ibrahimovic would be ´massive´ for United|
|Ter Stegen doesn´t understand Barcelona fans whistling|
|´He is doing a fantastic job´ – Bartomeu backs Luis Enrique|
|Guardiola slams ´unacceptable´ Wenger treatment|
|Spalletti: Roma goal machine Dzeko now believes he´s world class|
|Emery refuses to blame referee after PSG are held|
|Montella dedicates AC Milan win to Berlusconi|
|The players don´t need whistles – Luis Enrique hits out at fans|