Japan clinched its record fourth Asian Cup championship in the wee hours of Sunday morning. But in the end it was an unfamiliar face who scored the goal that hoisted Japan back on top the Asian pack of power soccer nations. The Samurai Blue edged past Australia 1-0 courtesy of a late but immaculately struck volley from the left foot of a young striker, Tadanari Lee, who only took the field well into extra time in the final as a substitute having made his international debut just three weeks earlier.
That meant, as ecstatic red-faced fans poured out onto the famous Shibuya crossing Sunday morning, that Japanese fans had a new soccer hero in their midst, one born of Korean descent.
Mr. Lee smashed a left-wing cross from defender Yuto Nagatomo into the top corner of the net with just over 10 minutes of an absorbing 2-hour encounter remaining, before trying to outsprint elated teammates to the middle of the field, launching an imaginary arrow into Qatar’s night sky.