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Top 5 Asian Moments at Russia 2018 

Kuala Lumpur: The five Asian teams concluded their participation at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with the highest points tally in the continent's history, and there were some memorable moments along the way.

Heroic individual and team performances, famous victories and record breaking moments. It was all present in Russia 2018 as Japan, Korea Republic, Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia represented Asia on the world stage. We relive some of the best moments from the tournament after the Samurai Blue were the last Asian side to depart the World Cup, ending their participation at the round of 16.

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Stunning the world champions

Germany’s hopes of defending their World Cup title relied on defeating Korea Republic in the final day of the group stage, but the Taeguk Warriors had a point to prove. A man-of-the-match performance from Joo Hyeon-woo saw the Korean goalkeeper make six saves to the frustration of the Germans who could not find the back of the net despite attempting 26 shots.

Korea Republic sealed a famous victory with a three-minute double salvo in added time of the second half. First, Kim Young-gwon pounced onto a poor clearance to smash the ball into the roof of the net from point-blank, then skipper Son Heung-min capitalised on a quick-break after goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had left his goal in a desperate attempt to pull an equaliser.

Shin Tae-yong’s men went home with their heads held high despite their group stage exit. It was a performance of a lifetime against the reigning world champions and a result that will be remembered for years to come.

Record Breaking Arzani

Just six months after making his senior debut for Melbourne City, 19-year-old Daniel Arzani found himself making history at the biggest stage. The Socceroos’ winger made an instant impression in the A-League and earned a place in Bert van Marwijk’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad.

Arzani’s proud moment came when he was brought on from the substitutes bench for a six-minute cameo against France in the opening match to become the youngest player to play in the competition and the youngest ever Australian to play at a World Cup.

The Iran-born winger may not have scored in Russia, but in his three substitute appearances, he showed glimpses of his bright talent and gave the Socceroos fans yet another reason to be excited about their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 prospects.

Beiranvand’s fairytale

IR Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was one of the heart-warming stories to come out of Russia 2018 as international media took note of his unorthodox path to the top, from sleeping rough on the streets of Tehran as he pursued his dream of becoming a professional footballer, to making an impact at the World Cup, no less.

Team Melli went into their final group match needing a win against Portugal to advance to the next round, and with the European champions leading 1-0 after 53 minutes, they had a golden chance to double it as Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded a penalty and stepped up to take it himself.

Up against arguably the best player in the world, Beiranvand remained composed and dived to his left to make a stunning save. The Persepolis man clutched to the ball second time after showing strong hands to parry it away, allowing his teammates to go on and grab a late equaliser. A proud moment to reward years of hard work.

Historic Winner

Saudi Arabia returned to the FIFA World Cup after 12 years of absence but did not have the best of starts as they found themselves overwhelmed by the challenge of facing the hosts Russia in the opening match.

A much-improved performance in the second game saw the Green Falcons narrowly edged by Uruguay, with Salem Al Dawsari showing glimpses of his ability.

With qualification hopes already dashed, Saudi Arabia faced neighbours Egypt in the last group game. The tie looked headed to a 1-1 draw until the dying minutes when Al Dawsari popped into space inside the opposition box to volley home Abdullah Otayf’s flicked pass from a narrow angle. The Al Hilal winger’s strike earned Saudi Arabia their first World Cup win in 24 years, having last beaten Belgium 1-0 in 1994. A well-taken goal ended the Green Falcons’ campaign on a high.

Japan's roller coaster ride

The Samurai Blue went into the round of 16 as Asia’s sole representatives and found themselves facing a monumental challenge against tournament favourites Belgium.

Coach Akira Nishino’s men put in a spirited performance and went into the half time break level, before striking on the counter within three minutes of the restart. Genki Haraguchi broke free and struck from a narrow angle to put Japan in front.

Five minutes later, there was another moment of magic as Shinji Kagawa controlled and set up Takshi Inui who fired in a thunderous drive into the bottom corner to send the Japanese fans into cloud nine.

For all the joy of the first hour in Rostov-on-Don, there was heartbreak at the end as Belgium threw everything at the Samurai Blue and managed to mount a 3-goal comeback within the final half an hour to deny Japan a historic first quarter-final appearance.

What was your favourite moment?
Korea Republic beating Germany
Arzani's performances
Beiranvand's penalty save
Al Dawsari's winner
Japan's display vs Belgium
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