AFC U-16: Japan seals quarters berth with Kyrgyzstan rout

Having scored seven against Vietnam in its previous game, Japan went one better against Kyrgyzstan for an 8-0 win to confirm a spot in the quarterfinals of the AFC U-16 Championship.

Kyrgyzstan (white) and Japan in action during a group stage match at the AFC U-16 Championship.   -  Special Arrangement

Akito Tanahashi netted a hat-trick as Japan made it two comprehensive wins from two, maintaining its 100% record at the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 with an 8-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan on Monday in Group B.

After an even opening 30 minutes at the GMC Stadium, the two-time champion opened the scoring through Tanahashi before goals from Takefusa Kubo and Keito Nakamura increased the half-time advantage to three. The second half brought more joy for Japan's forwards in a five-minute spell on 52 minutes as first Nakamura, then Tanahashi again and Toichi Suzuki increased the lead to six. There was still time for Tanahashi to net his third in the final 10 minutes before Kubo scored his fourth of the tournament in injury time as Japan bettered its 7-0 win over Vietnam in its Group B opener.

Kyrgyzstan had in fact begun the match as the brighter side and it had the first effort on goal on five minutes as Aziret Momoshev slipped in Gulzhigit Borbubaev but the forward was forced too far wide and Kosei Tani was able to collect his eventual shot at the second attempt.

Momoshev also had an opportunity as his free-kick from the left zipped wide of Tani's left-hand post, before he went closer still four minutes later with a shot inside the area that forced the Japan 'keeper into a low save to his left.

But with the match evenly poised it took an error to break the deadlock three minutes after the half hour mark. Malik Aitbaev delayed his clearance too long allowing Tanahashi to charge it down and surge into the penalty area before smashing the ball past the exposed Elgard Sychev.

Japan made it two with three minutes of the half remaining after Kyrgyzstan failed to clear its lines allowing Kubo to shimmy his way into the area and drill across Sychev into the bottom corner for his third goal of the tournament. And there was still time left in the first half for Yoshiro Moriyama's team to make it 3-0 at the break as Tanahashi squared for Nakamura to fire home from near the penalty spot.

Samat Suimaliev brought on Adilet Kanyebekov, the match-winner against Australia, at half-time in an attempt to reduce the deficit but it was Japan who increased its lead seven minutes in as Kubo artfully played in Nakamura to curl a smart low finish past Sychev.

Just a minute later Tanahashi netted his second, before Amantur Shamurzaev brought down Suzuki inside the box and the forward dusted himself off to slam home Japan's sixth from the spot.

Kubo could have made things worse for Suimaliev's side by netting his second of the match on the hour-mark but the FC Tokyo forward hit the post after he had rounded Sychev.

Japan did make it seven, though, on 80 minutes as Maksat Dzhakybaliev handled inside the area to allow Tanahashi to complete his treble with a convincingly taken spot-kick.

Not yet sated, Nakamura then smashed the outside of the post with a rising drive with five minutes remaining before Kubo, deep in injury time, completed his second brace in consecutive games, as Japan capped off another hugely dominant performance.

Japan coach Yoshiro Moriyama said, "We knew they would play aggressively and physically with high pressing. We were prepared for this, but still struggled. After the big win in our first game, I thought the players were too relaxed, so I told them to stay focused and we also looked at how to play against a high press."

"The difference between the two games was in the first 30 minutes today as we had to play patiently and even struggle a little bit. Fortunately, Akito Tanahashi scored and that opened up the match and it changed the game. Even though we struggled at one stage, we still scored a lot of goals so I'm happy with the players scoring quality, and we definitely hope to maintain that for the next game."

Kyrgyzstan coach Samat Suimaliev said, "In the first 30 minutes we showed our football and the plan was working. But then after the first goal we lost our game. We had really good moments but we couldn't realise them, that's why got punished. Japan take advantage of any mistake. We have to consider that Japan is one of the best teams in Asia and in this tournament. This game taught us a lot of lessons and we will learn from it on how to raise our level in the future."

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