Japan beat Indonesia, qualify for AFC Asian Cup knockout stages

Japan beat Indonesia, qualify for AFC Asian Cup knockout stages

Japan are heading to the AFC Asian Cup knockout stages after defeating Indonesia, 3-1, to wrap up Group D play.

Former Kashima Antlers man Ayase Ueda was spectacular, scoring twice to lead the Samurai Blue as they secured a round of 16 matchup with the winner of Group E.

Japan were dynamic from the start and took the lead mere minutes in. Ueda turned his defender and was grabbed from behind, leading the referee to award a penalty with a little help from VAR. Ueda then buried the spot kick and the Samurai Blue had a lead after just six minutes.

FC Tokyo product Takefusa Kubo was brilliant, creating chances left and right with his outstanding vision. It nearly led to several goals, with only some heroic blocks by Indonesia and the post keeping Kubo and Japan at bay.

Japan finally doubled this lead just after halftime as former Gamba Osaka duo Keito Nakamura and Ritsu Doan combined down the left to pick Indonesia apart before Doan crossed low to the back post where Ueda tapped it into the empty net. It was a beautiful goal and, for all intents and purposes, secured the Samurai Blue’s place in the knockout stages.

Ueda nearly made it a hat trick late on, but a deflection by Justin Hubner into the Indonesia net made Japan’s third an own goal.

A stoppage-time tally by Sandy Walsh put Indonesia on the board, but three points were already headed Japan’s way as their quest for a record fifth AFC Asian Cup continues.

The Samurai Blue’s round of 16 match will take place on January 31 against either South Korea, Jordan or Bahrain.