Group B: Korea Republic 2-5 Japan
Taipei: Four goals from Kaoru Morioka helped Japan advance to the quarter-finals of the AFC Futsal Championship following a 5-2 win over Korea Republic in Group B on Saturday.
Morioka opened the scoring in the first half but Park Young-jae leveled soon after as Korea proved resilient opposition to go into the interval all square.
The Japanese frontman then scored twice in quick succession either side of Chun Jin-woo’s equaliser, before teeing up Manabu Takita for Japan’s fourth and then rounding off the scoring late on as Korea Republic were eliminated.
Having suffered a 13-2 defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan in their opening fixture, Korea Republic got off to a better start against their East Asian rivals at University of Taipei Gymnasium as they withstood the early pressure from one of the tournament favourites.
The Koreans then could have gone ahead eight minutes in but Chun was denied by goalkeeper Higor Pires as the tie remained firmly in the balance.
Kazuhiro Nibuya fired wide for Japan midway through the first half, before the three-time winners finally broke the deadlock a minute later when Morioka held off the Korea defence, turned and drilled past Seo Jung-woo.
Quick thinking by Lee Min-yong helped Korea level the score in the 13th minute as the captain's kick-in found Park just a yard from goal to tap home.
As an end-to-end game ensued, Seo proved a solid last line of defence, denying Japan on a number of occasions, and it was Korea who could have gone into the interval in front but Lee was narrowly off target after being teed up by Lim Yeung-seung.
Kazuya Shimizu almost put Japan back in front early in the second half when he was just inches away from connecting with Tomoki Yoshikawa’s dinked cross.
Substitute goalkeeper Yushi Sekiguchi was then called into action to save from Jung Soo-in and Cho Byung-girl in quick succession as Korea grew in belief that they could cause a major upset.
Morioka then fired Japan back in front with a fine effort from distance, only for Korea to equalise almost immediately after through Chun to spark jubilant celebrations on the sidelines.
But Japan retook the lead midway through the second half as Morioka completed his hat-trick with a simple tap-in as a gripping contest unfolded.
Japan opened up a two-goal lead for the first time when Morioka found Takita, who made no mistake in firing past Seo with five minutes remaining.
Yoshikawa then set up Morioka for his fourth of the game to seal victory and Japan’s place in the last eight as Korea’s second successive defeat confirmed their elimination.
The result also secured Uzbekistan’s place in the quarter-finals after they defeated Tajikistan 4-2 in Saturday’s earlier Group B encounter.
Lee Sang-jin: Korea Republic Head Coach
"Futsal is a very dynamic sport with many tactical change. Our players aren't very well adapted to the AFC Futsal Championship, and with the lack of strong opponents like Japan in our local league, our players don't have the experience playing against strong teams.
Bruno Garcia: Japan Head Coach
"For us it was a really good game, and more importantly the ticket to the next round. I want to thank our supporters who came to support us. We definitely played better in the second half, hence the goals. Moriaka played really well today, but it was a team effort. Our target is the victory. Because it's a challenge as Uzbekistan were the runners up in the last edition it will be a good challenge for us.