Double delight for Japan
Busan: Japan’s men’s and women’s national teams enjoyed a goal-laden day in Busan, both producing convincing wins as the EAFF E-1 Football Championship continued on Saturday.
A Mana Iwabuchi hat-trick helped the Nadeshiko to a 3-0 win over China PR in the women’s tournament, while Hajime Moriyasu’s men’s side proved far too strong for Hong Kong in a 5-0 success.
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Women’s tournament: China PR 0-3 Japan
Mana Iwabuchi was at her dazzling best, helping herself to a hat-trick as Japan breezed past China PR 3-0 in a clash of two of Asia’s strongest women’s national teams.
Iwabuchi scored twice before half-time before completing her treble 11 minutes into the second half to eliminate China from title contention and take her personal tally to five goals in two matches.
Japan’s win was their fourth in succession, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic hosts having now racked 18 unanswered goals since their elimination from the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
Fresh from two goals and an assist in Japan’s 9-0 defeat of Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, Iwabuchi took just nine minutes to expose the Chinese defence, finishing off a trademark passing move which included Yui Hasegawa and Asato Miyagawa by slipping the ball through the legs of Peng Shimeng.
A handy save from Ayaka Yamashita prevented China’s Li Ying from levelling the contest, but Iwabuchi extended Japan’s lead a minute before half-time, this time beating Peng with a cultured chip after being well supplied by Hasegawa.
The 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup MVP’s first senior international hat-trick was complete when Peng spilled an effort from Rikako Kobayashi, leaving Iwabuchi with the simple task of tapping the ball into the open net only moments before she was replaced by Mina Tanaka.
With six points from two matches, Asako Takakura’s side could become EAFF women’s champions as early as Sunday if Korea Republic fail to beat Chinese Taipei, but should Colin Bell’s side prove successful, a draw with the tournament hosts on Tuesday will still secure the regional title for the Nadeshiko.
Men’s tournament: Japan 5-0 Hong Kong
A youthful Japanese men’s national team continued from where the Nadeshiko left off, outclassing Hong Kong to claim a 5-0 win at Busan Gudeok Stadium.
Koki Ogawa bagged an international hat-trick, with Daiki Suga and Kyosuka Tagawa also finding the back of the net in a comprehensive victory which puts Japan firmly on course for the regional title.
Moriyasu’s home-based squad have earned a maximum six points from their two matches, with Sunday’s clash between Korea Republic and China PR to determine precisely what will be required for Japan to clinch the title on Wednesday.
After a fighting display against the hosts on Wednesday, Hong Kong were blown away by a four-goal Japanese first half, with Suga volleying home the opener in the eighth minute before Tagawa headed home Ryota Oshima’s corner kick six minutes later.
It was then that Ogawa’s night out began, with the Mito HollyHock forward beating Hong Kong goalkeeper Tse Tak-him from 20 yards in the 24th minute, before doubling his tally with a close-range effort in the first minute of stoppage time.
The 22-year-old sealed the match ball one minute before the hour mark, heading home from close range as Japan marched to a dominant win which keeps them strongly in contention for a first East Asian title since an Alberto Zaccheroni-led outfit won the tournament in 2013.
Photos: Japan Football Association, EAFF, Hong Kong Football Association
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