International Friendlies: Japan trounce South Korea in a dominant display

Japan's Hakumi Minamino
Japan's Hakumi Minamino
Alex Bishop

Japan have soundly beaten South Korea in front of a limited capacity home crowd at Yokohama Stadium.

The friendly was the first time the two sides faced off since December 2019, when South Korea edged a 1-0 win in an EAFF Championship encounter.

Samurai Blue head coach Hajime Moriyasu set his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Yuya Osako spearheading the attack and Daichi Kamada in behind. Liverpool's Takumi Minamino was positioned on the wide left.

Meanwhile, South Korean head coach Paulo Bento went with a similar set up. Valencia's Lee Kang-in led the Korean attack along with FC Seoul forward Na Sang-ho, offering creativity as the right-sided attacker.

Both sides boasted a healthy combination of domestic and European based talent. However, there were some notable omissions. Tottenham's South Korean attacking midfielder Son Heung-min stayed back in England with a muscle injury. Takefusa Kubo was selected for Japan's U-24 game against Argentina on Friday evening.

The home side came out of the traps racing and nearly took an early lead after just 6 minutes, with Kamada whipping the final ball in on a well-worked attack from the left side.

Japan's next big chance came just 5 minutes later with Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo`s header skimming the cross bar after an inch-perfect cross from Minamino.

After a sustained period of dominance from the home side, the deadlock was broken on the 17 minute mark. Morita’s lovely backheel slipped Yamane through the South Korean backline and the striker instantly slotted home.

Ten minutes later Japan doubled their lead after Osako charged forward on the counter and played in Kamado, who fired past Jo Hyeon-woo to make it 2-0.

The first half continued to play out, with South Korea pinned in their own half by the hosts and struggling to muster up any real threat. Japan headed into the tunnels deservedly in front at the break.

The guests were aggressive with their half-time substitutions, making three in total, including a goalkeeper replacement. Japan made just one change, switching out Kamada to hand Ataru Esaka his national team debut.

Japan too much to handle for South Korea

The opening of the second half passed along similar lines to the first. Japan continued to create viable opportunities with both Minamino and Esaka coming close in the opening stages.

South Korea's first shot of the game came after 58 minutes with Al-Sadd`s Jung Woo-young firing wide. The guests finally seemed to have found some footing as they exposed holes in the Japanese defense.

This proved to be a tide-turning moment as South Korea proceeded to take the game by the scruff of the neck and enjoyed the majority of possession from that point on.

Protect what we have seemed to be Moriyasu`s approach at that point as he opted for a defensive change, bringing on FC Tokyo left wing-back Ryoya Ogawa for Sho Sasaki.

Partizan Belgrade forward Takuma Asano later came on to relive Osaka with prolific Viseel Kobe attacker Kyogo Furuhashi stepping forward, replenishing Japan's urgency in attack.

Japan continued to create chance after chance and subsequently added to their lead as Wataru Endo headed home from an Esaka corner in the 83rd minute.

The game ended with Japan walking out as deserved winners, leading their old adversaries 3-0. The morning papers will surely hail this as an important victory and a sign of things to come from Moriyasu's men.

Unfortunately, South Korea offered very little and were unable to capitalize on any space they found. They will surely review the errors made in order to make the necessary improvements ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

For Japan, notable performances came from Hidemsa Morita, Daiichi Kamada and Takumi Minamino. They head into next week’s World Cup qualifier against Mongolia high on confidence.

Edited by Rohit Mishra


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