A Vibrant Japanese Goal Gives Team the Lead. Substitute Pak Hyon Il Turns the Tables and Grants DPR Korea Victory.
A one touch pass in the 3rd minute of the match allowed Japan to open with a display of force, with forward Kawamata vying for a loose ball which was then made available to defensive midfielder Taniguchi, who gave right side-back Endo the chance to make a swift pass behind the defensive lines to Muto. Muto, who had already begun to run through the players from the second line, managed to score a flamboyant goal for Japan.
Japan kept at bay the DPR Korea’s attacking with skilful cooperative work in defence. With some fast pass-work – courtesy of manager Halilhodzic – Japan now generated their own rhythm, securing a number of crucial goal-scoring chances. These chances, however, were not mean to be, with the first half ending on a score of 0-1.
In the second half a sudden change in tactics saw the DPR Korea increase the number of side-changing plays, which shook the compact Japanese defences, and threatened the Japan goal with crosses from either side of the pitch.
Japan now entered playmaker Shibasaki into midfield and changed from a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 formation. With exhaustion looming, the side attempted to push their position on the pitch forward to control the game. However, with a powerful forward Pak Hyon Il on the front line, the DPR Korea positioned Hong Kum Song behind the team’s two attackers. This provided the squad with an aggressive flare, and in the 33rd minute an indomitable post-play by Pak Hyon Il allowed Ri Hyok Chol to score the equaliser. Substitutes Kohrogi and Asano gave Japan some extra speed and momentum on the pitch. Despite such vitality, the side’s procession was stopped by centre-backs who put their bodies on the line and goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk.
Then in the 43rd minute, when the chances of the game ending in a draw had become almost inevitable, a long pass from the left by DPR Korea, followed by a cross, allowed a driven Pak Hyon Il to head the ball toward the Japanese goal. This caught Japan goalkeeper Nishikawa off guard, giving the DPR Korea a significant victory.