Wednesday, 20 Feb 2008  Chongqing, China PR Olympic Sports Center

China PR
China PR 0 0-1
1 Japan
                       17min. 10/ YAMASE Koji

Japan protect their first half goal to beat hosts China PR.

 This match was played between hosts Chin PR, who suffered a come from behind loss to Korea Rep. in their first match, and Japan who struggled to find their rhythm and tied their first match versus DPR Korea. In a similar fixture to the 2004 AFC Asian Cup final also held in Chongqing (the result was a Japanese victory 3-1) Japan claimed a win by a score line of 0-1.

 Against China PR who started with the same line up that played Korea Rep., Japan started the fired up NAKAMURA Kengo as volante. YAMASE Koji started in right mid-field having recovered from a hamstring injury and all up there were 5 changes made to the line up that started the DPR Korea match.
However the first to push forward and find their rhythm was the home team, China PR. In the 7th minute LIU Jian, who scored against Korea Rep., found QU Bo who’s long ball found a charging side back SUN Xiang who shot. In an 8th minute counter attack ZHU Ting dribbled and shot. Japan couldn’t even manage a shot to counter this barrage. But in the 17th minute they progressed down the left on a counter attack. KOMANO Yuichi put in an early ball which TASHIRO Yuzo challenged for at the near post, the rebound was slammed into the far right side of the net with a right footed volley.
 China PR gave up the first goal but didn't let the pace drop after that. QU Bo’s post up play in the 19th minute led to a left footed shot on goal by WANG Dong. Then in the 20th, DU Zhenyu broke down the left side following a neat one-two with SUN Xiang and sent in a through ball to QU Bo. China PR were switching play often and had success down the right through ZHANG Shuai’s runs. In the 32nd minute DU Zhenyu controlled XU Yunlong’s long ball and turned goal ward. But Japanese goalkeeper NARAZAKI Seigo charged off his line to clean up. No goal.
 With TASHIRO up front alone following their goal, attacking chances dried up. NAKAZAWA Yuji and KONNO Yasuyuki the two central defenders had their work cut out for them stopping China PR’s attacks. In the 36th minute LIU Jian had a good chance to score from a header. In first half extra time ENDO Yasuhito took a free kick won by TASHIRO on the left but it didn't result in a goal. Japan went into half time with a 1-0 lead but it was China PR who had had the best of the play.

 Japan brought on frequently used left defender KAJI Akira. The idea being that they could reduce the number of good scoring chances China PR had made in the first half by cutting out play on the left wing. At the other end, NAKAMURA Kengo put YASUDA Michihiro into space in the 55th minute, he took the ball in his stride and won a free kick just on the edge of the box. However ENDO’s left foot shot missed target and didn't result in a goal. But Japan had changed the attacking momentum and YAMASE had another shot in the 60th minute from range. In the 64th minute defender UCHIDA Atsuto overlapped TASHIRO and collected the through ball. Then in the 69th minute NAKAMURA won the ball in the opponent’s area and ENDO’s through ball to YAMASE resulted in a strong shot on goal.
 In the final period of play 42,000 home fans cheered as 20 year old striker HAO Junmin was introduced to desperately seek an equalizer. Once again they attempted to attack down the wing and in the 85th minute DU Zhenyu had a right footed shot after coming fro the left. In extra time DU Zhenyu’s crossed from the left and HAO Jua nmin dribbled down the right and crossed in the box. But in the end none of these attempts were able to beat Japan’s goalkeeper, NARAZAKI before the match finished. Japan won 1-0 and move to 4 points. China PR however, suffered their second loss in a row and now have no chance of winning the tournament.
 After their first win in this competition, Japanese coach OKADA Takeshi said “I knew it was going to be a tough match. A lot happened but in the end my team battled and won which I’m happy about. Next is Korea Rep. We are happy to be playing for the championship”. Coach of hosts China PR, Vladimir PETROVIC, said after his team’s second consecutive loss “I had emphasizes the importance of attacking before the match and the players followed those instructions well. If we had taken our first and second chances I think the result would’ve been different”.

Text by YOSHIDA Taro




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