Woman's ASIAN CUP: Thailand 0-4 Japan (23/05/2010)
Chengdu: East Asian champions Japan qualified for the semi-finals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2010 after easing to a 4-0 victory over Thailand on Saturday at a sun-drenched Chengdu Sports Centre.
Featuring nine changes from the 8-0 opening day win over Myanmar, Japan eventually broke down a stubborn Thailand midway through the first half as Megumi Takase netted before fellow newcomers Manami Nakano and Rumi Utsugi added to the lead before half-time.
Striker Kozue Ando, who came off the bench in the second half against Myanmar, added a superb fourth just after the break as Japan ensured qualification from Group A with a game to spare.
Japan's new look line-up took time to gel but soon the Nadeshiko began to impose themselves on the contest as Aya Miyama and Nakano both went close.
They continued to dominate but found it difficult to break down defence-minded Thailand as Ando headed harmlessly into the hands of goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing midway through the first half.
But after 27 minutes Japan finally took the lead as they worked the ball across the edge of the area and eventually Ando, with her back to goal, found Takase for her fellow strike partner to fire a low first-time shot crisply into the bottom corner with Waraporn rooted to the spot.
Japan should have added a second eight minutes before the break when Ando ran unmarked into the area to meet Nahomi Kawasumi's pull back, but with only Waraporn to beat, the striker opted for placement over power from the edge of the six yard area allowing the goalkeeper to stick out a timely foot.
The lead though, was doubled five minutes before half-time as Nakano muscled past her marker on the edge of the area to race onto Kawasumi's searching long ball before firing a low shot across Waraporn.
Only a smart point blank save from previously untested Japan goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago denied Junpen Seesraum netting with Thailand's first threat on goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
And Japan took full advantage as Utsugi unleashed an unstoppable first-time shot into the top corner from all of 30 yards on the stroke of half-time.
Japan's fourth arrived nine minutes after the break as Ando was given time and space outside the Thailand area to calmly guide a shot over a stranded Waraporn.
Chiaki Minamiyama rattled the Thailand crossbar nine minutes later before the pace of the contest slowed in the closing stages due to the heat and a raft of changes.
Thailand did produce a frantic finish in search of a consolation while Japan substitute Homare Sawa should have added a fifth in stoppage time but shot straight at Waraporn with the goal at her mercy.