Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Afghanistan 0-6 Japan: Kagawa and Okazaki shine

SoccerNews in World Cup 8 Sep 2015

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Japan recorded a 6-0 win over Afghanistan on Tuesday to maintain their unbeaten record in AFC World Cup qualifying Group E. 

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men beat Cambodia earlier this month, following a draw with Singapore on matchday one, and they built on that win at Azadi Stadium in Iran.

Shinji Kagawa and Masato Morishige sent Japan in at half-time with a 2-0 advantage, before the Borussia Dortmund attacker doubled his advantage five minutes into the second period.

Shinji Okaazaki then netted a quickfire brace to make sure of the win, and a subsequent goal from Keisuke Honda added further gloss.

The four-time Asian champions started the match with attacking intentions, creating a number of fine chances early on.

Morishige and Makoto Hasebe both failed to find the net from inside the area, but there was no denying Kagawa in the 10th minute.  

The former Manchester United star twisted past his marker after being set up by Genki Haraguchi and found the net with a sublime shot from the edge of the box, beating Ovays Azizi at his near post. 

Morishige nearly doubled his side’s lead with a dangerous free-kick that took an awkward bounce just in front of the goalkeeper, only to see his effort hit the crossbar, with Shinji Okazaki heading wide from the rebound.  

The Afghan goalkeeper pulled off a sublime save to keep out a header from close range following a Japan corner kick, but Honda pulled back the rebound for Morishige, who tapped home from five yards out to get his goal at last. 

Japan effectively put the match to bed early in the second half, with Kagawa doubling his personal tally after another Haraguchi assist.

Hotaru Yamaguchi then got all the time and space he needed from the Afghanistan defence to set up Okazaki for a simple finish. The latter made it five only minutes later when he pounced on a deflected Honda shot to get his second of the game.

Slaven Skeledzic’s men kept on pushing for a consolation goal, but struggled to contain the Japanese attackers as Honda made it 6-0 after a fine assist from substitute Takashi Usami.

Tuesday’s win sees Japan climb to second place in the table with seven points from three encounters, trailing leaders Syria by two points. 

Afghanistan, meanwhile, remain fourth with three points from as many games.

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