"Defense wins championships," as the old saying goes.

The Samurai Blue certainly needed plenty of it on Monday after maintaining less than 24 percent possession over 90 minutes of their Asian Cup round of 16 win against Saudi Arabia under the baking sun at Sharjah Stadium.

Japan was out-shot (15-5), out-passed (659-197), out-cornered (6-4) and out-whistled (27 fouls to Saudi Arabia's 13), but managed to come out on top 1-0 after Takehiro Tomiyasu headed in Gaku Shibasaki's corner kick in the 20th minute.