Unable to pack final punch, China PR was unable to secure tournament championship.
The 2015 EAFF East Asian Cup now in its final round, manager Alain Perrin used a 4-3-3 formation for attacking and 4-4-2 for defending. Whilst creating chances to attack Japan, team ace GAO LIN and goal scorer YU DABAO (scored against DPR Korea), along with swift wing WU LEI, worked actively to secure openings on the pitch.
On the other hand, Japan employed a 4-2-3-1 formation, raising side-back ENDO WATARU to the position of defensive midfielder, and debuting goalkeeper HIGASHIGUCHI MASAAKI and left and right side-backs YONEKURA KOKI and NIWA DAIKI for the national team. Japan displayed some diverse striking, centred on the relatively more dynamic USAMI TAKASHI (left wing).
In the 4th minute of the start of the game a loose ball from a corner kick was fired toward the goal by USAMI, hitting the crossbar.
The first team to capitalise on a chance, however, was China PR. In the 10th minute of the first half GAO LIN controlled the ball from a restart on the right, passing it to midfielder WU XI, who passed it on to WU LEI for a shot that skimmed the Japanese defence before find its way to the back of the opposition net.
Another long pass to WU LEI by China PR saw the forward free and unmanned. However, YONEKURA dashed back to pressure the player, with goalkeeper HIGASHIGUCHI then skilfully covering the goal and denying China PR a second goal.
After that close call, Japan saw its striking capability reawaken, the rhythm of the match shifting in Japan’s favour.
After some back-to-back chances a through pass by MAKINO TOMOAKI in the 41st minute found YONEKURA, who crossed the ball into the penalty area from the left. MUTO slid in to score the equaliser.
The torrential rain that had started to pour down on the game during the match forced both teams to attack behind each other’s defensive lines, leading to the development of an increasingly physical game that demanded the teams to hastily switch between offense and defence. China PR numbers 10 ZHENG ZHI and 9 YANG XU, playing on a mistake by the Japanese side, broke into the Japanese penalty area.
However, defender Makino provided Japan with the critical cover it needed, clearing the ball. Japan now sent its players away from the resilient defensive lines to the front, but was lacking in accuracy. A kick by SHIBASAKI GAKU was followed by an attempt by ENDO, who had rushed into the China PR half to score, which missed the mark.
Thus the game ended in a 1-1 draw. With four points, China PR came second to tournament champions Korea REP.
Japan, with a loss and two defeats, ended the tournament in fourth place.