Japan started their Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup campaign today with a 3-2 comeback win over Turkmenistan in Group F.
The four-time winners, the most successful team in the competition's history, were trailing 1-0 at half time but a brace from Yuya Osaka and another from Ritsu Doan secured them the three points at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
In hot conditions Japan started brightly and had a strong chance to take the lead after 12 minutes.
Doan's close-range header failed to beat Mamed Orazmuhamedov, however.
Turkmenistan responded well to that chance for the Japanese though and they took a surprise lead, albeit against the run of play.
After 27 minutes their captain Arslanmurat Amanov unleashed a powerful long-range effort from around 30 yards for a terrific opener.
Not expecting him to have a shot from so far out, the Japanese put no pressure on their man and so could only watch as he unleashed a rocket into the top left corner.
Both sides then had further chances before half time, but with neither side able to take them the whistle blew at 1-0.
Japan's equaliser finally came in the 56th minute when Osaka turned neatly in the box and fired home into the bottom right corner.
Having got their first, it then took only four minutes for Japan to take the lead.
A blunder from Turkmenistan's Mekan Saparov allowed Yuto Nagatomo to find Osaka, who made no mistake in front of an open goal and bagged his second of the match.
With Turkmenistan tiring it began to look like Japan might run away with it, as Doan grabbed their third after spinning away from his marker.
A 79th minute penalty saw Turkmenistan pull one back, but they were unable to push on and find an equaliser.
The result meant Japan jumped to the top of the group on three points, but Uzbekistan swiftly joined them with a 2-1 win over Oman at the Sharjah Stadium.
A winner from Eldor Shomurodov five minutes from time gave them three points of their own.
Earlier in the match Uzbekistan's captain Odil Ahmedov had given his side the lead with a free kick from 25 yards, before Oman equalised through substitute Muhsen Al Ghassani in the 72nd minute.
In the final match of the day, the next FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar beat Lebanon to win 2-0 in their first match in Group E.
Despite having 70 per cent of possession, the first half came and went without Qatar managing a shot on target, although they did finally break the deadlock after 65 minutes.
Their defender Bassam Al Rawi found the net with a free-kick into the centre of the goal.
Their lead was then doubled in the 79th minute when forward Almoez Ali scored from the centre of the box.
It was highly controversial, however, as Lebanon thought they had gone in front in the first half only for their goal to be ruled out for a supposed foul.
The second phase of group action will begin tomorrow, starting with Bahrain against Thailand in Group A at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.