OSAKA: Ayase Ueda scored a hat-trick and Japan made an assertive start to its eighth consecutive World Cup by beating Myanmar 5-0 on Thursday.
The home side were missing injured Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma but Feyenoord striker Ueda filled the void with a ruthless finishing display in Osaka.
Daichi Kamada and Ritsu Doan also got on the scoresheet as Japan took control of the World Cup qualifying group, which also included North Korea and Syria.
Japan defeated Myanmar 10-0 in the last match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
This time, the guest team was determined for the first 10 minutes, but they were defeated by Takumi Minamino’s mastery.
The former Liverpool striker, now at Monaco, picked out Ueda with a soaring pass over the defense and Ueda nodded the ball for the opener.
Lazio midfielder Kamada made it two just before the half-hour mark, slotting a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper from the edge of the penalty area.
Ueda gave Japan a third in the first half, turning home Doan’s pass for the first time with a masterful finish from a tight angle.
The striker completed his hat-trick five minutes into the second half, slotting home Minamino’s sharp pass.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu made a number of changes once the result was safe, even replacing goalkeeper Keisuke Osako with 10 minutes remaining.
But there was just enough time for Doan to score the fifth goal by controlling the ball in the penalty area before tipping it over the goalkeeper.
Japan has won its last seven matches, scoring 29 goals and conceding just five.
Their next match on Tuesday will see them travel to Syria on neutral ground in Saudi Arabia.
news source (www.brecorder.com)