Japan begin Asian Cup title defence with thumping over Palestine
Newcastle (Australia), Jan 12 (IANS): Japan made a fantastic start to their title defence with a landslide 4-0 victory over 10-man Palestine in their Group D opening match of the Asian Cup football tournament here Monday.
In the first ever competitive meeting between the two nations, the four-time Asian Cup winners had the upper hand throughout the match against the debutant team.
From the very first minute, Japan troubled the Palestine's defenders with their short passes and quick movement.
Palestine could not find an effective way to cope with their opponents ploy, succumbing to the pressure, conceding three goals in the first half including a penalty.
In the 8th minute, Japan' s midfielder Yasuhito Endo fired a powerful volley into the lower corner from outside the box.
His team-mate Shinji Okazaki extended the advantage with a brilliant header 17 minutes later. In the 44th minute, Japan earned a penalty and Keisuke Honda calmly converted to put his team 3-0 up at halftime.
After the break, Maya Yoshida's header made it 4-0 for Japan. To make matters worse, Palestinian defender Ahmed Mahajna was show the second yellow card and was expelled. Japan, with 64.4 per cent ball possession, had 23 shots on targets, compared to Palestine's six.