- AFC Futsal C'ship (QF): Thailand 2-3 Japan01:23 | 08/05/2014
Kaoru Morioka scored with just under five minutes remaining as defending champions Japan edged out former finalists Thailand 3-2 in an enthralling quarter-final at the AFC Futsal Championship on Wednesday.
Kazuhiro Nibuya and Nobuya Osodo opened the scoring for Japan in the re-match of the 2012 final at Ton Duc Thang University Stadium only for Thailand to level an enthralling tie as Suphawut Thueanklang and Jirawat Sornwichian struck either side of half-time.
But with Morioka netting his second goal of the campaign, Japan remained on course for a third AFC Futsal Championship.
After an even start to the contest with both sides showing plenty of attacking intent, Thailand came close to a breakthrough after six minutes as Piyapan Ratana’s long range strike struck the foot of the Japan post with goalkeeper Jun Fujiwara rooted to the spot.
Japan, though, took full advantage of the let off and opened the scoring less than a minute later as Nibuya slid in at the back post to convert Akira Minamoto’s low cross and claim his fourth goal of the campaign.
And Japan doubled their lead six minutes before half-time as Osodo rounded Thailand goalkeeper Katawut Hankampa on the edge of the penalty area, and despite being forced wide by the prone custodian, was able to squeeze home his sixth goal in four games between covering defender Suphawut and the post.
Thailand enjoyed more possession in the closing stages of the first half, but with Japan holding a comfortable advantage and having brought up five fouls, they were content in sitting back.
But with just over five seconds remaining in the first half, Japan did concede their sixth foul close to the halfway line and Suphawut beat Fujiwara from the 10-metre penalty spot to claim his seventh goal of the campaign.
And five minutes into the second half the scores were level as Jirawat found a way past Fujiwara at his near post from Wiwat Thaijaruen’s pass.
Thailand goalkeeper Katawut kept the scores level with just over eight minutes remaining with a superb fingertip save from Shota Hoshi, although the custodian was still feeling the after effects of an earlier accidental collision with Nibuya.
But with five just under five minutes remaining, Morioka spun away from Piyapan close to the touchline before dispatching his shot past Katawut and into the far corner to reclaim the lead for Japan.
Thailand coach Victor Hermans responded by introducing Jirawat in place of Katawut with just over three minutes remaining when his side were attacking, and the move nearly paid off almost instantly as Jirawat rattled the Japan post.
But Japan stood firm and did have a chance to seal the win in the closing seconds, but Katawut saved Kotaro Inaba’s penalty, although there was no time for Thailand to mount one final attack.
According to AFC
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