Pune (Maharashtra) [India], January 24 (ANI): Defending champions Japan booked their place in the quarter-finals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 after defeating Vietnam 3-0 in a Group C tie at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Monday.
The win took Japan to six points from two matches and they, together with Korea Republic - who defeated Myanmar 2-0 earlier on Monday - are assured of a top-two finish.
The two East Asian rivals will meet on Thursday to decide the top spot while Vietnam will aim to defeat Myanmar in order to stand a chance of claiming one of the two best third-placed slots into the knockout stage.
Japan, defending the AFC Women's Asian Cup titles won in 2014 and 2018, started with their confidence high following the 5-0 win over Myanmar on Matchday One with head coach Futoshi Ikeda only retaining captain Saki Kumagai, Risa Shimizu and Mina Tanaka in his starting lineup.
Japan seized control from the start and found an opening in the fourth minute when Yui Narumiya received Ruka Norimatsu's cross into the area, but she failed to get her volley on target.
The Nadeshiko's persistence, however, bore fruit in the 38th minute when Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Khim spilled Hana Takahashi's effort, with Narumiya converting from close range.
Japan doubled their lead five minutes into the second half as Kumagai was the fastest to react after Tanaka's header saw the ball rebound off the woodwork.
The Nadeshiko found their third eight minutes later with Kumagai at the heart of the action, as the skipper redirected a corner kick into the centre of the box for an unmarked Narumiya to slot home.
Vietnam began to show signs of life in the final 20 minutes of the match, with Pham Hai Yen trying her luck from distance in the 75th minute but goalkeeper Momoko Tanaka easily dealt with the effort as Japan cruised into the knockout stage. (ANI)