10/6/2018 11:36:35 PM (GMT+3)

Japan fightback to beat Australia 3-1 in AFC U16 semis

Japan fightback to beat Australia 3-1 in AFC U16 semis

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Japan came from a goal down to defeat Australia 3-1 at the AFC U16 Championship semifinal here at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Australia got off to a dream start when Noah Botic converted a seventh-minute penalty, but a second half brace from Toyama Shoji and one from Shunsuke Mito took Japan to within one match of a third title.

The Aussies made four changes from their quarterfinal starting lineup but maintained livewire Botic while Japan only kept four players from their 2-1 win against Oman, fielding Yusuke Aoki and Shoji to bolster their attack.

Japan held the upper hand in the opening minutes with their heavy pressing but Trevor Morgan’s side kept their composure and soaked up the pressure.

Australia opened the scoring seven minutes in when Botic was brought down in the box by Sako Maaya’s sliding tackle, and the forward neatly converted the spot-kick to take his personal tally to five goals.

Undeterred, the young Samurai Blue continued to push Australia into their own half and were impressive in their runs forward in search of the equaliser.

In the 24th minute, Keita Nakano surged past three defenders but he shot straight into the arms of Australian goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic, before coming close again moments later when Yusuke Ishida sent a through pass into the box. Nakano, however, just failed to connect.

Four minutes later, Nakano’s strike rocked the crossbar as Australia heaved a sigh of relief and went into the break still ahead. (Courtesy: AFC)