Japan open Asian Cup defence with 5-0 win

AAPReuters
Hikaru Naomoto and Yui Hasegawa celebrate a goal in Japan's 5-0 Women's Asian Cup win over Myanmar.
Camera IconHikaru Naomoto and Yui Hasegawa celebrate a goal in Japan's 5-0 Women's Asian Cup win over Myanmar. Credit: AP

Two-time defending champions Japan have brushed aside Myanmar 5-0 in their opening game at the Women's Asian Cup in Pune.

West Ham United midfielder Yui Hasegawa struck twice for Futoshi Ikeda's side as Japan made light work of Myanmar in their opening Group C match on Friday.

Riko Ueki put the champions in front when she nodded in Hasegawa's 22nd minute cross but it took until the second minute of the second half before Japan doubled their advantage.

Hasegawa was released behind the Myanmar defence by Ueki's deft touch to slot home while Hikaru Naomoto's curling free kick gave the Japanese a third five minutes later.

Yui Narumiya hit the fourth from the edge of the Myanmar penalty area and Hasegawa capped a fine display in stoppage time when she clipped the ball over goalkeeper May Zin New.

Japan's five-goal romp was made to look a little sluggish later on Friday in Mumbai as their rivals for the title, Australia, thrashed Indonesia 18-0, with Sam Kerr scoring five and Emily van Egmond four.

The Matildas are on top of Group B on three points, with the Philippines in second on goal difference following their 1-0 victory over Thailand.

The Philippines, who had not beaten Thailand in 12 previous attempts, earned a late victory at Navi Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium after Thai keeper Waraporn Boonsing spilled forward Chandler McDaniel's shot in the 81st minute.

Japan, who beat Australia in the final in both 2014 and 2018, moved to the top of Group C on three points, while South Korea defeated Vietnam 3-0 in the late evening contest to sit second on goal difference.

South Korea had the perfect start with captain Ji So-yun firing the opener from the edge of the box within four minutes and they soon had their lead doubled, thanks to an own goal from Vietnam defender Tran Thi Phuong Thao.

Ji completed her brace in the 81st minute, firing her penalty kick into the bottom left corner, after Vietnam defender Chuong Thi Kieu was penalised for a handball in the box.

The 2022 edition of the Women's Asian Cup has been expanded from eight to 12 nations and serves as Asia's qualifier for next year's Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Asia has been granted five automatic berths at the finals in addition to Australia's spot as co-hosts while two playoff spots are also available.

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