Japan thoroughly outclassed Thailand 4-0 in their World Cup qualifying clash on Tuesday, as Yuya Kubo’s match-winning performance saw a party atmosphere take over Saitama Stadium.
The Samurai Blue took control of Group B with the win sending them top of the standings on 16 points, three clear of rivals Australia.
It was Shinji Kagawa who got the ball rolling for Vahid Halilhodzic’s men on the night, as his beautiful individual effort handed Japan their opener in the eighth minute.
And despite the efforts of future Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo star Chanatip Songkrasin, who had the opportunity to enamour himself with a Japanese crowd as Thailand’s most potent attacking outlet, the War Elephants were unable to drag themselves back into the match.
Kubo, who already provided the assist for Kagawa, laid the ball on a plate for Shinji Okazaki to nod home from his cross. The Gent man then stole the headlines for himself by netting the third goal with a stunning 20-yard effort.
The result was inevitable and Maya Yoshida netted Japan’s fourth in the 83rd minute from a corner kick, as Eiji Kawashima saved Teerasil Dangda’s penalty right at the death to put the seal on a memorable Japan win.