Group D: Mes Sungun Varzeqan 2-3 Nagoya Oceans
Bangkok: Two goals by Pepita steered Nagoya Oceans to a 3-2 win over defending champions Mes Sungun Varzeqan, sealing the Japanese side top spot in Group D of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Thailand 2019 on Monday.
Three-time champions Nagoya Oceans will face Group C runners-up Vamos FC in the quarter-finals while Mes Sungun will play Group C winners Bank of Beirut of Lebanon on Wednesday.
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Mes Sungun and Oceans, who had never previously met, came into the tie having already booked their places in the knockout stage after winning both their earlier group games.
Oceans’ Tomoki Yoshikawa, Ryuta Hoshi and Pepita troubled the defending champions as the Japanese club controlled the early possession.
Mes Sungun goalkeeper Alireza Samimi was called into action in the fifth minute when he saved Shota Hoshi’s effort from the top of the arc and a minute later, the Iranian tipped over Yoshikawa’s goal-bound shot.
The Iranian club had their first shot at goal in the sixth minute but Oceans’ goalkeeper Yushi Sekiguchi foiled Mohammad Shajari’s effort from above the arc.
Two minutes later, Oceans broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion through Neto Antonio Hirata’s close range effort as he finished off Shota Hoshi’s assist.
Mes Sungun came back fighting and almost drew level four minutes later through Mahdi Javid’s half volley but Sekiguchi was quick to react with a fingertip save.
Oceans’ doubled their lead a minute later through Pepita’s strike from inside the box after some good work from Ryuta Hoshi at the edge of the area.
Farhad Fakhim came close for Mes Sungun in the 16th minute when he dribbled past three Oceans' players before hitting the side netting and seconds later, saw his close range effort blocked by Sekiguchi.
Mes Sungun’s persistence finally bore fruit a minute before the break when Alireza Vafaei capitalised on a defensive error and scored from close range.
Oceans could have increased their advantage in the 22nd minute when Pepita sent a delightful cross into the danger area but Shota Hoshi failed to capitalise.
Mes Sungun came close in the 26th minute through Bacao’s strike from above the arc but Sekiguchi was on top of his game.
Oceans suffered a blow in the 28th minute when captain Ryuta Hoshi received his marching orders for a foul on Fakhim as the Iranian surged forward.
Two minutes later, Mes Sungun scored the equaliser through Fakhim’s effort from above the arc following a good team build-up.
Oceans responded immediately with efforts from Hirata and Pepita from outside the box but Samimi was quick to deny their efforts.
Pepita, however, made sure three-time champions Oceans would emerge group winners after he finished off a move he started, combining beautifully with Ryohei Ando, in the 35th minute.
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