Korea Republic thrash Japan to retain EAFF E-1 crown

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Korea Republic retained the EAFF E-1 Football Championship on Saturday after cruising to a 4-1 win over hosts Japan at the Ajinomoto Stadium.

Entering the game top of the table with wins from their previous two games, Japan only needed to avoid defeat to add to the first and only EAFF crown they won four years ago.

And, after just three minutes, they were firmly on course to do just that when Yu Kobayashi fired them ahead from the penalty spot, after Junya Ito had been illegally halted inside the area by Jang Hyun-soo.

However, the South Koreans equalised in the 13th minute when an excellent left-wing cross by Kim Jin-su landed right on the head of Kim Shin-wook, who made no mistake in powerfully nodding the ball into the back of the net.

The Taegeuk Warriors then edged ahead ten minutes later after being awarded a freekick outside the box; Jung Woo-young stepping up and unleashing a sumptuous dipping effort past Nakamura from all of 25 yards.

Five minutes after the half-hour mark, Kim Shin-wook struck again to put Korea Republic firmly in control of proceedings with a neat finish, after being set up by a fine run and neat pass from Lee Jae-sung.

And, in the 69th minute, the rout was completed when Yeom Ki-hun lined up a freekick on the right and whipped it in low and with pace, with the ball appearing to take a nick of Kobayashi before nestling into the bottom corner.

The victory saw the South Koreans overtake Japan in top spot by a solitary point, sealing a record fourth EAFF E-1 title in the process.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s earlier game saw China finish one point above DPR Korea in third spot following a 1-1 draw between the two teams.

JAPAN: Kosuke Nakamura, Naomichi Ueda, Genta Miura, Gen Shoji, Shintaro Kurumaya, Kasuyuki Konno, Yosuke Ideguchi (Kento Misao 66’), Shu Kurata (Hiroyuki Abe 81’), Junya Ito (Kengo Kawamata 70’), Shoma Doi, Yu Kobayashi.

KOREA REPUBLIC: Cho Hyun-woo, Go Yo-han, Jang Hyun-soo, Yun Young-sun, Kim Jin-su, Lee Jae-sung (Jung Seung-hyun 72’), Jung Woo-young, Ju Se-jong, Kim Min-woo, Lee Keun-ho (Yeom Ki-hun 68’), Kim Shin-wook (Jin Seong-wook 88’).