Cruel fate brought Bahrain into the round of 16 with the top spot in the group in an unexpected way to clash with Japan. Despite many setbacks in the first 3 matches, Hajime Moriyasu’s team is still a much stronger team than Bahrain. That’s why Bahrain almost withdrew all its troops to defend during the first half.
Unlike the matches in the group stage, Japan entered the game slowly and steadily. However, when they need to speed up they still have quality punches.
In the 31st minute, from a distance of about 25 meters, right back Seiya Maikuma suddenly fired a cannon shot into the far corner. The ball bounced off the column and Ritsu Doan quickly kicked the rebound to open the score for the match.
On the other side of the front line, there was only one shot on target towards Suzuki Zion’s goal. Of course, it wasn’t enough for them to think about a goal in the first half.
After halftime, Japan took advantage of the poor defense of Bahrain’s defense to score a second goal. That was a situation where a red shirt player cleared the ball straight into Kubo and his feet The striker playing at Real Sociedad had a dangerous cross-angle shot, increasing the score to 2-0. The referee initially rejected this goal because it seemed Kubo was in an offside position. However, after consulting the VAR team, he recognized the goal.
Losing 2 goals, Bahrain was forced to push their team higher to find an equalizer. In a somewhat deadlocked match, the red shirt team suddenly scored an equalizer thanks to goalkeeper Suzuki’s mistake. In the 64th minute, from a corner kick, midfielder Sayed Baqer headed a strong header towards Suzuki. Instead of safely punching the ball for a corner, Suzuki caught the ball unsafely and gave Bahrain a free goal.
However, Japan is still classy enough to not let Bahrain rise for too long. In the 72nd minute, Ueda turned the ball past two Bahrain players. At a tight angle, Ueda sent a decisive low shot through the goalkeeper’s legs to increase the score to 3-1.
Minute 90+4, when Bahrain’s defense was too high, Asano had the opportunity to face the opposing team’s goalkeeper. Unfortunately, his correction was not difficult enough to defeat the Bahrain goalkeeper.
Although the second half had 10 minutes of overtime, Japan was satisfied with the 2-goal difference. They passed the ball firmly at home and did not give Bahrain any chance to overturn the situation.
Winning this match, Japan is the 7th team to enter the Quarterfinals. There are still concerns about the defense, but at least, people have seen a Japanese attack playing quite well in this match.
Final round: Japan 3-1 Bahrain
Scored: Doan 31′, Kubo 49′, Suzuki 64′ (own goal), Ueda 72′
Japan: Suzuki – Nakayama, Tomiyasu, Itakura, Maikuma – Endo, Hatate – Doan, Kubo, Nakamura – Ueda.
Bahrain: Lutffalah – Hayam, Baqer, Adel, Ali – Hardan, Madan, Marhoon, Aswad, Shaikh – Helal.
Ngoa Long | 20:13 January 31, 2024