Japan secure first Asian Cup win

Yuya Osako scores twice as the Blue Samurais overcome a spirited fightback by Australia to earn first tournament win.

    Japan secure first Asian Cup win
    Japan improved to four points after their opening 3-3 draw with China [Reuters]

    Japan edged out Australia 3-2 in their East Asian Cup men's match on Thursday thanks to goals by a pair of international rookies.

    Yuya Osako scored twice in the second half after Manabu Saito opened the account in the first half for Japan, who earned their first win of the tournament at Hwaseong Stadium south of Seoul.

    Osako, in his first international match, broke a 2-2 deadlock with his second goal of the game in the 79th minute, barely a minute after the Socceroos pulled even on Tomi Juric's score.

    All change

    Alberto Zaccheroni completely overhauled his Japanese starting line-up from last Sunday's 3-3 draw against China. For Australia, Holger Osieck trotted out the same starting 11 that he used in the scoreless draw against South Korea last Saturday.

    After a feeling-out period, Saito put Japan ahead in the 25th minute with his first international goal. He took a pass near the arc and dribbled toward the right edge of the box, before chipping one out of Eugene Galekovic's reach into the Australian net.

    Japan threatened to go two-up 11 minutes later, but Yohei Toyoda's header off a Hiroki Yamada cross went right into Galekovic.

    Australia tried to mount a comeback, as Matthew McKay volleyed a loose ball high over the bar in the 40th.

    Australia showed more life to start the second half but Japan pulled away in the 55th. Osako received a nifty pass from Toyoda under the arc and dribbled in between two Australia defenders before calmly putting it past Galekovic.

    With Japan seemingly in control, Australia cut the lead in half as Mitchell Duke caught the Japanese defence napping in the 75th minute.

    The goal gave the Australians new life, and Juric netted the equaliser thanks to a great individual effort from the top of the box.

    Japan had blown a two-goal lead in the second half against China last weekend, but Osako ensured they would bag three points on Thursday night.

    Japan will play their final match against South Korea on Sunday, while Australia's last game will be against China on the same day. Both matches will take place in Seoul.

    Earlier on Thursday North Korea held the women's World Cup champions Japan to a scoreless draw in the women's match.

    North Korea controlled the pace for most of the first half, and Ri Ye-Gyong hit the crossbar just before the break. Japan made some last-ditch efforts to beat the fatigued opponents, but Hong Myong-Hui stood her ground in the North Korean net to keep the match scoreless.

    The women's competition will wrap up on Saturday in Seoul, with North Korea taking on China and Japan facing South Korea.



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