Asian Cup: Japan open title defence in style with 5-0 win over Myanmar

PUNE: Powerhouse Japan showcased their overwhelming technical superiority as they secured an easy 5-0 win over Myanmar to begin their AFC Women’s Asian Cup title defence in style here on Friday.
Japan had to wait till the 22nd minute to take the lead but once they did that there was no stopping the two-time defending champions, who toyed with their opponents in a lop-sided Group C match at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
Riko Ueki gave the Japanese the lead while strikes early in the second half from Yui Hasegawa and Hikaru Naomoto provided the 2011 World Cup runners-up a comfortable cushion.
Substitute Yui Narumiya hit the fourth before Hasegawa sealed the win in injury time.
The Japanese showed the wide gap in class between the 13th and 47th ranked teams from the opening whistle. The hapless Myanmarese had to defend in their own half with hardly any attacking move all through the match.
Goalkeeper Nwe May Zin was the most busy Myanmar player and her side would have lost by a bigger margin but for some fine saves from her.
Yui Hasegawa doubled the lead two minutes after the restart as Japan’s quality began to show. Hinata Miyazawa’s stab forward was deftly steered into Hasegawa’s path by Ueki and the West Ham United midfielder coolly slotted the ball home.
The 24-year-old almost added a third soon after, only for Nwe to acrobatically tip her rising drive onto the crossbar, but there was little the goalkeeper could do in the 53rd minute when substitute Naomoto curled her free-kick over the wall to score Japan’s third.
Fuka Nagano also hit the bar from distance and Nwe continued to frustrate the Japanese attack until Narumiya claimed the fourth 19 minutes from time, scoring from the edge of the area only seconds after stepping off the bench.
Hasegawa then capped a stellar performance when she instinctively clipped the ball over Nwe a minute into injury time as she came off the line.
Japan play Vietnam in their second group game here on Monday, while Myanmar face Korea next.

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