Asano fires Japan to win

Takuma Asano bounced back from last week’s disallowed goal controversy as he hit Japan’s second in a 2-0 win over Thailand which reignited their World Cup qualifying bid on Tuesday.

Asano fires Japan to win

Takuma Asano

Asano was denied a clear goal in Thursday’s 2-1 defeat to UAE when officials failed to see his shot had crossed the line, but there was no doubt when he scored in Bangkok.

After Genki Haraguchi’s first-half opener, Asano squeezed his shot under goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan to give Japan a two-goal cushion on 75 minutes.

The victory restores Japan’s fortunes in Group A, where they are aiming to become one of two teams to win automatic qualification to the Russia World Cup in 2018.

Japan ran Thailand ragged, with the passing and movement of AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa cutting through the home side’s defence with ease.

Former Manchester United man Kagawa missed a slew of clear chances.

But the breakthrough came on 17 minutes as Hertha Berlin’s Haraguchi stooped to head home a deliciously weighted cross from the right.

It threatened a deluge of goals but Thailand clung on, thanks largely to goalkeeper Kawin who made several sharp saves to keep his side in the game.

His heroics nearly paid dividends on 70 minutes when a sweetly timed reverse pass put Thailand’s star striker Teerasil Dangda through on the Japanese goal.

But the one-time Almeria loan player – Thailand’s first export to Spain’s La Liga – could only scoop his shot at the goalkeeper.

Five minutes later Asano, on loan at Stuttgart from Arsenal, pounced on a bungled clearance and his shot squirmed under the diving Kawin, sparking joy among the Japanese fans.

Thailand, who have not beaten Japan since 1997, now have an uphill task following two defeats in the space of a week.

The War Elephants went down 0-1 to Saudi Arabia on Thursday after a contentious late penalty decision against them.

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