DOHA: Japan maintained its pursuit of a record-extending fifth Asian Cup title on Wednesday by advancing to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 win against Bahrain.
The pre-tournament favorite has bounced back from a surprise 2-1 loss against Iraq in the group stage and will play either Iran or Syria in the next round.
Goals from Ritsu Doan, Takefusa Kubo and Ayase Ueda secured Japan's place in the last eight, while Zion Suzuki's own goal was the only consolation for Bahrain.
Bahrain had advanced as the winner of Group E ahead of another of the pre-tournament favorites, South Korea. It may have considered itself unfortunate, then, to face four-time champion Japan in the round of 16, which finished runner-up in Group D.
Japan went ahead in the 31st minute when Seiya Maikuma's long-range shot came back off the post and Doan converted on the rebound.
Kubo doubled the lead four minutes into the second half when he spun and finished from close range.
Bahrain was given hope of a comeback in the 64th as Sayed Baqer's powerful header was parried into the air by Suzuki. The Japan goalkeeper then tried to catch the ball, but collided with Ayase, who was attempting to head clear off the goal-line and the ball was fumbled into the net.
Ayase restored Japan's two-goal advantage eight minutes later when firing low at the near post to beat Bahrain keeper Ebrahim Lutfalla.
Three-time champion Iran was playing Syria in the last round of 16 game later on Wednesday.