Dhaka [Bangladesh], Oct. 15 (ANI): Japan held their nerves till the final hooter to snatch a 3-1 victory against hosts Bangladesh who put up a strong fight in Sunday's Pool A match at the Asia Cup 2017 in Dhaka.
With both Japan and hosts Bangladesh vying for that elusive three points in Pool A, the clash on Sunday witnessed the two teams give it their best and entertain the home crowd. While Japan had to win by a big goal difference to keep their Super 4s hope alive, Bangladesh had to win to salvage their pride in their home ground.
Japan being a better side in counter attack, they constantly put pressure on Bangladesh defence in the circle. They were quick in their circle penetrations in both first and second quarter but could not quite make the chances count as they narrowly missed shots on goal.
In the 10th minute of the match, they won three back-to-back PCs but a poorly executed variation dented their hopes of an early lead. However, a breakthrough came in the 22nd minute when Kenji Kitazato made a brilliant run into the circle to score a field goal and fetch Japan a 1-0 lead.
Though Bangladesh registered fewer circle entries compared to Japan and the chances they created were well defended by the Japanese goal keeper Suguru Shimmoto, it was the unrelenting skipper of Bangladesh Rashel Mahmud who helped win a PC for his team in the 28th minute. The chance was brilliantly utilized by Mamunur-Rahman Chayan who was excellent with his dragflick to equalize.
Though Japan found a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the 40th minute when they were awarded a penalty stroke, Bangladesh goalkeeper Asim Gope was outstanding in his effort to pad away the flick. Japan won as many as three PCs the following minutes but were shoddy in their execution, often with bad injection and trapping that saw them miss out on goal scoring opportunities.
It's noteworthy to mention Bangladesh's efforts in putting up a strong defence but they lost steam in the final few minutes of the game which was capitalized by Japan. It was two back-to-back goals in the 59th and 60th minute by Kenta Tanaka that saw Japan convincingly win the match by 3-1.
Tanaka was impressive with his dribbling on both occasions that saw him beat the Bangladeshi defender to put it past Gope and win the match. (ANI)