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AFC U-17 Championship

AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023: Japan thump Korea Republic to lift title

Published at :July 3, 2023 at 1:24 AM
Modified at :July 3, 2023 at 1:24 AM
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Japan were successful in defending their AFC U-17 Asian Cup title.

Japan became the first side to have their name engraved on the new AFC U-17 Asian Cup trophy after defeating 10-man Korea Republic 3-0 in the Thailand 2023 final at the Pathum Thani Stadium on Sunday.

Gaku Nawata scored twice with Yutaka Michiwaki netting the third after Korea Republic had been reduced to 10 men in the 44th minute with Japan adding the title to the three AFC U-16 Championship crowns won previously.

Japan settled quickly and could have opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Nawata advanced down the left before squaring the ball to an unmarked Yutaka Michiwaki who, however, failed to keep his shot down on the turn from just above the six-yard-box.

Korea Republic responded almost immediately, but Japan keeper Wataru Goto redeemed himself after initially failing to hold on to Kim Myeong-Jun’s shot from above the box by recovering to prevent the forward from placing the ball in the net.

Two minutes later, Japan had another opportunity when Ryunosuke Sato sent a deep ball to Yumeki Yoshinaga who lost his marker down the left flank but then failed to find an unmarked Nawata with Korea Republic keeper Hong Seong-min intercepting the pass.

As the action swung end to end, Back In-woo forced Goto into making a save off Lim Hyun-sub’s assist while Japan almost carved the game open when Sato surged down the right before cutting the ball back to Nawata, whose lob saw a diving Yutaka Michiwaki’s header parried away by Seong-min.

The game, however, took a dramatic turn in the 43rd minute when Ko Jong-hyun received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Michiwaki just outside the box.

Even as Korea Republic tried to regroup, up stepped Nawata to beautifully strike the free-kick over the wall and past a despairing Seong-min.

Japan raced off the blocks in the second half and kept Korea Republic on their toes with Sato missing his effort from distance in the 47th minute before Michiwaki and Nawata saw their efforts from inside the box saved by Seong-min.

Korea Republic struggled to hold down the attacking Japanese side and they fell further behind in the 66th minute from a slick passing move which was orchestrated by Sato, who unleashed an unmarked Kohei Mochizuki, who nutmegged Kim Hyun-min before feeding Nawata for a fine finish.

As Korea Republic pushed forward in an attempt to salvage the final, Japan struck their third deep in added time through Michiwaki as the celebrations erupted. 

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