Takumi Minamino grabbed a second-half double to help Japan beat Tajikistan 3-0 on Tuesday and claim a third consecutive win in the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Following a goalless first half at the Republican Central Stadium, the Samurai Blue broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Shoya Nakajima found space down the left and curled a perfectly-weighted cross to Minamino, who escaped his marker to steer a free header past Rustam Yatimov.
Just three minutes later, the Red Bull Salzburg man doubled his and his side’s tally as he deftly guided home a low ball into the six-yard box from Hiroki Sakai, finishing off a well-worked team move that saw Japan patiently play the ball around until an opening arose.
With eight minutes remaining, Takuma Asano came off the bench to secure the three points with Sakai emerging as the provider again, floating in a deep cross to the far post for the Partizan Belgrade forward to head home.
TAJIKISTAN: Rustam Yatimov, Manuchehr Safarov, Davron Ergashev, Khurshed Beknazarov, Akhtam Nazarov, Jahongir Ergashev, Parvidzhon Umarbayev, Amirbek Juraboev (Karomatullo Saidov 17’; Tohir Malodustov 86’), Ehson Panjshanbe, Alisher Dzhalilov, Manuchekhr Dzhalilov (Sheriddin Boboev 66’).
JAPAN: Shuichi Gonda, Hiroki Sakai, Naomichi Ueda, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Gaku Shibasaki, Kento Hashimoto, Ritsu Doan, Takumi Minamino (Takefusa Kubo 86’), Shoya Nakajima (Takuma Asano 63’), Daichi Kamada (Kensuke Nagai 80’).
Photo credit: Tajikistan Football Federation