Navi Mumbai, Jan 30 (Football News) Japan on Sunday qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in style as they reached the semifinals of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Thailand here.
Striker Yuika Sugasawa scored four goals for the two-time defending champions who will face the winners of the other quarterfinal match between China and Vietnam in the semifinals on Thursday.
Thailand, the 1983 champions, are still in the running for a place in the FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand through the playoffs to be played on February 2 and 4.
With Thailand missing several players due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad, Japan started as favourites and Futoshi Ikeda's side took an immediate grip on the match.
Mana Iwabuchi, after two attempts in the early stages, had a chance to put Japan ahead in the 14th minute after Wilaiporn Boothduang fouled Rin Sumida in the penalty box. Goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing, however, judged correctly to deny Iwabuchi.
Boonsing would prove to be a stumbling block for Japan as the match progressed but there was little the goalkeeper could do to deny the defending champions their opener in the 27th minute, with Yuika Sugasawa's right-footed shot from the centre of the box proving too powerful for the custodian to stop.
Thailand continued to bravely deny their opponents but were hit again in the first half stoppage time, with Hinata Miyazawa scoring from close range following a goalmouth melee.
Any hopes Thailand had of a possible comeback were dashed three minutes into the second half, with Sumida scoring Japan's third with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box into the bottom right corner.
With Thailand visibly tiring, Japan maintained a high tempo and their constant pressure saw them earn a second spot-kick in the 64th minute when Phonphirun Philawan was penalised for bringing Sugasawa down, with the striker converting from the spot with a well-placed shot into the bottom right corner.
With Thailand's resistance broken, it rained goals for Japan in the remaining minutes with Riko Ueki scoring their fifth in the 75th from the right side of the penalty box.
Sugasawa completed her hat-trick five minutes later with an effort from just outside the box and added her fourth with a header in the 80th minute.
News Source : PTI