Group B: Uzbekistan 2-4 Japan
Taipei: Japan will go into the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 quarter-finals as Group B winners after they maintained their 100 percent record following a 4-2 win over Group B runners-up Uzbekistan on Monday.
With both teams coming into the tie at the University of Taipei Gymnasium on the back of consecutive wins the action began in closely-fought fashion, before Uzbekistan opened the scoring within the third minute.
Farkhod Abdulmaylanov was found on the left by goalkeeper Rustam Umarov and the No 8 tricked his way past Rafael Henmi before curling the ball past Japan custodian Higor Pires into the far corner of the goal.
Koichi Saito went close to a swift reply with long range rocket that rattled Umarov’s left-hand upright and, with a little over 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Ryosuke Nishitani was inches away from sliding home Kaoru Morioka’s low cross, before Kazuya Shimizu also hit the woodwork with a flick from close range.
Japan, though, needed less than a minute of the restart to draw parity as Morioka slammed home his sixth goal of the tournament from the edge of the area after Dilshod Rakhmatov was penalised for a back-pass.
And another set-piece saw Japan take the lead three minutes later as Shota Hoshi turned in Shimizu’s ball into the box.
The Japan ‘keeper then almost gave Uzbekistan a golden opportunity to level when his wayward pass landed at the feet of Davron Choriev but the forward’s lofted effort clattered off the top of the upright.
Nevertheless the White Wolves sustained pressure did result in an equaliser on 27 minutes, Uzbekistan captain Artur Yunusov prodding home after Pires could only parry the initial effort.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued as with six minute remaining, Hoshi headed in to add his second and Japan’s third of the night.
Uzbekistan resorted to the power play for the final minutes of the game, but were further punished as Ryosuke Nishitani drilled home from the halfway line into an unguarded net as Japan made it three wins out of three.
The pair will next be in action on Thursday with the Samurai Blue facing Group A runners-up Bahrain, while Uzbekistan will take on Vietnam.
Bakhodir Akhmedov: Uzbekistan Head Coach
"We made more mistakes than Japan and we got punished. The team with the fewest mistakes wins, that’s why we got defeated today. We lost our concentration in the second half and therefore we paid the price. In the next game, we will try to make less mistakes and improve our performance.."
Bruno Garcia: Japan Head Coach
"It was a great game, I’d like to congratulate my players as they played really well. I’d also like to thank our supporters for coming to cheer us on today, as they have done for every game so far. We have to remember Uzbekistan are a great team – the runners-up in 2016 – and scored first but our team stuck to the gameplan and got the result we needed. It’s very important for us to go into the quarter-finals as the first placed team. We don’t mind who we face in the last eight, we are focused only on our team."