Japan was the better side on the evening on all metrics with South Korea’s ageing side pushing it to the end before ultimately just inching ahead to claim the third place in the Asian Champions Trophy.
With the scores level at 3-3 after 52 minutes, Japan scored two goals in four minutes to clinch the contest 5-3 here at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Saturday. Japan had lost to Korea twice already this year after having taken the lead, but there were to be no reversals this time around.
Both teams were greeted by light showers before pushback, and it was Japan who made the most of the conditions by zipping the ball quickly across the turf and looked threatening with its runners on either flank.
Ryosei Kato, Japan’s best player in attack this tournament, was involved in its opening two goals. And just like in the previous match between these two sides – Korea won 2-1 both Kato and Ryoma Ooka were involved in its opening goal. Kato played a pass into Taiki Takade before making a run into the circle to receive a return. The attacker made room to squeeze a shot on goal, which was initially blocked before Ryoma Ooka slotted a finish.
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For the second, Kosei Kawabe and Kentaro Fukuda combined intricately before the latter squared it across the face of the goal for Kato to poke home the finish.
Korea found a way back in the final seconds of the opening quarter. Jonghyun Jang hadn’t been at his best with his drag flicks here, but he made no mistakes by converting the two short corners Korea had in this game. From the first battery, Jang dragged the ball slightly wide before he angled his drag flick past the keeper’s reach and onto the board. On the other hand, Japan had seven short corners but couldn’t score from them with Ken Nagayoshi coming close when he rattled the post with his rising dragflick.
Korea patiently kept building up play and found the equaliser through Cheoleon Park after an excellent run into the circle by Juyoung Lee. Lee’s cutback rebounded into the path of Ji Woo Cheon, whose tomahawk was deflected into the goal by Park.
Korea, though, went behind again immediately after another good build-up play down the right. Kawabe ran down to the baseline before finding Kaito Tanaka, whose cutback to the far post was converted by Fukuda.
At half-time, Japan coach Akira Takahashi asked for more calm and focus from his players to make the most of the openings they created. But Japan suffered a setback again from a Jang drag flick. He went for the same place, but this time, Takashi Yoshikawa got his foot to the ball, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from scoring.
In the final quarter, Japan kept the pressure on Korea with sustained possession and got the go-ahead goal when Shota Yamada smashed a looping pass from Ooka onto the ground and into the net. Korea claimed a review for dangerous height, but the TV umpire didn’t seem to agree with them. Three minutes later, Nagayoshi wrong-footed Kim Jaehyeon from the penalty spot to seal the win.
RESULT: Korea 3 (Jonghyun Jang 15’ 33’, Cheoleon Park 26’) lost to Japan 5 (Ryoma Ooka 3’, Ryosei Kato 9’, Kentaro Fukuda 28’, Shota Yamada 53’, Ken Nagyoshi 56’)
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