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Quarter-final: Japan 2-0 Indonesia 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jakarta: Defending champions Japan became the second team to earn a place in the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 semi-finals, and a ticket to the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, eliminating hosts Indonesia with a 2-0 win at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Sunday.

A sensational goal from Shunki Higashi just before half-time was followed by Taisei Miyashiro's 70th-minute sealer, as Masanaga Kageyama's side continued their perfect winning record in the competition.

They will now face either Saudi Arabia or Australia in the final four, while Indonesia's dream of appearing at a second ever global finals ends at the final hurdle.

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Amid a cauldron of colour and noise provided by a 60,000-strong crowd, Indonesia were appearing in their first AFC U-19 Championship quarter-final in 40 years, while Japan were looking to draw a step closer to a second succesive title.

Indra Sjafri's side were without injured star Egy Maulana Vikri, and adopted a defensive tactical approach, but they still managed to have the game's first shot at goal when Firza Andika ventured forward but failed to clear a sea of Japanese legs.

Japan had the ball in the back of the Indonesian net in the 11th minute, only for Daiki Hashioka's header to be chalked off for offside, and they suffered a blow four minutes later when Kanya Fujimoto succumbed to injury.

Indonesia defended carefully throughout the opening period, but they fell behind to a goal that any defence would have been powerless to prevent when Japanese left-back Shunki Higashi ventured forward to hammer an unstoppable 35-yard drive into the top corner of the net and give the visitors a precious 40th-minute lead.

With heavy rain beginning to fall, the hosts rallied early in the second half, but it took a crucial reflex save from Muhamad Ryandi to prevent Hashioka from doubling the lead following a 57th-minute set-piece.

A clever Saddil pass finally split the Japanese defence eight minutes later, but Witan Sulaeman failed to capitalise, and a superb Kosei Tani save denied Saddil's free-kick soon after, as Indonesia continued to search for a leveler.

But, as the rain continued to rage, Japan weathered the storm before extending their lead with 20 minutes remaining as Miyashiro was afforded rare space in the Indonesian penalty area to send the ball trickling over the sodden turf and into the net for 2-0.

Sjafri's side had proven their resilience in adverse situations during the competition's group stage, but there was no coming back from Myashiro's strike, which effectively ended not only the contest but Indonesia's World Cup dream.

Photos: AFC

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