Men's football at Tokyo 2020: Japan tops group with all-win record

The Samurai Blue beat reigning World Cup winner France 4-0 in the final outing. It will meet New Zealand in the quarterfinal.

Japan's Takefusa Kubo celebrates his goal against France at the Yokohama Stadium on Thursday.   -  REUTERS

Japan, the Olympic host, was the most impressive side in a competitive draw in men’s football as it completed its group league engagements with an all-win record. The Samurai Blue beat reigning World Cup winner France 4-0 in the final outing.

France has been struggling all through the tournament and appeared totally out of their depth against the pace and organisation of Japan, which scored twice on either side of the two halves. With its best in men’s football coming in the form of bronze in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Japan on current form would surely be expecting an improvement in the podium position.

They dominated the French at the Yokohama Stadium from the start and opened the scoring through its promising Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo before the half-hour mark. Hiroki Sakai doubled the lead in the 34th minute before Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda added one each after the break to give Japan the right momentum ahead of its quarterfinal match against New Zealand.

South Korea pumped half a dozen goals against a hapless Honduras which played with 10 men after the ejection of its defender Carlos Melendes in the 39th minute. On its way to the remarkable score-line, Korea found three penalty licks coming its way quite handy. The dominant win helped Korea clinch the top spot in Group B and set up a quarterfinal clash with the 2012 London Olympics champion Mexico.

READ| Tokyo Olympics women's football: Sweden, Netherlands impress the most

Spain displayed a fine brand of creative football with its youth level players bringing the famed tiki-taka alive in their efficient passing and ball possession. Needing a draw to progress to the knock-outs, Spain did not hurry and kept the game under its control. The Argentines failed to show the organisation that would unsettle the shape of the Spanish formation and had to settle for a 1-1 draw. The drawn result put Spain on top of  Group C (with two draws and a win) while Egypt shocked Australia 2-0 to secure the second spot in the group. Egypt, which tied Argentina on points (four each), pushed the South American champion out of the competition on a better goal difference.

READ| Football at Tokyo 2020: France fights back, Japan notches up second win

Defending champion Brazil floored Saudia Arabia 3-1 to emerge the Group D topper with seven points while Ivory Coast, which drew 1-1 with Germany, finished second with four points. This meant a heartbreak for Germany which crashed out on goal difference after being tied on points with Ivory Coast.

Men’s football quarterfinal line-up (all matches on July 31):

At Kashima: Japan vs New Zealand; At Rifu: Spain vs Ivory Coast; At Yokohama: South Korea vs Mexico; At Saitama: Brazil vs Egypt.

The results (concluding round):

Group A: France 0 lost to Japan 4, South Africa 0 lost to Mexico 3.

Group B: Romania 0 drew with New Zealand 0, South Korea 6 beat Honduras 0.

Group C: Australia 0 lost to Egypt 2, Spain 1 drew with Argentina 1.

Group D: Saudia Arabia 1 lost to Brazil 3, Germany 1 drew with Ivory Coast 1.  

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :