Japan edged past their fellow 2018 FIFA World Cup participants Saudi Arabia by a solitary goal from Takehiro Tomiyasu in the 20th minute to storm into the quarterfinals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
A clinical display from Hajime Moriyasu’a men at the Al-Sharjah Stadium was enough to knock out Saudi Arabia, who enjoyed the majority of the possession throughout the match.
The win takes Japan one step closer to sealing the Asian Cup after a span of 8 years and the Blue Samurais have maintained a 100 per cent win record in the ongoing continental meet. Japan will face Vietnam in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup on Thursday in Dubai.
Let us look at the 3 reasons why Japan managed to beat Saudi Arabia:
#3 Disciplined defending from the Blue Samurais
Japan played brilliant football in the backline and were successful in shutting down Saudi Arabia inside the box. The disciplined defending from the centre-backs Tomiyasu and Maya Yoshida were exceptional, they were well supported by side-backs Yuta Nagatomo and Hiroki Sakai.
The full-backs were successful in keeping away any headers from their opponents. It was pretty disappointing for Saudi Arabia that they were unable to get shots on goal even though their possession was more than 70 per cent throughout. The Japanese stoppers should be largely credited for keeping Fahad Al Muwallad and Co. at bay in the knockout fixture.
For the record, Saudi Arabia produced a total of 15 shots throughout the game but had only a single shot on target during the entire 90 minutes.
Tomiyasu had a great game and probably the most memorable in his career at the International level. Apart from his duties at the back, he scored the winner in the first half.
He was a live wire for the Japanese outfits along with his compatriot. The full-back will play an influential role for his nation in the business end of the tournament.