Japan open Asian Cup defence with 5-0 win

Two-time defending champions Japan have brushed aside Myanmar 5-0 in their opening game at the Women’s Asian Cup in Pune.

West Ham United midfielder Yui Hasegawa struck twice for Futoshi Ikeda’s side as Japan made light work of Myanmar in their opening Group C match on Friday.

Riko Ueki put the champions in front when she nodded in Hasegawa’s 22nd minute cross but it took until the second minute of the second half before Japan doubled their advantage.

Hasegawa was released behind the Myanmar defence by Ueki’s deft touch to slot home while Hikaru Naomoto’s curling free kick gave the Japanese a third five minutes later.

Yui Narumiya hit the fourth from the edge of the Myanmar penalty area and Hasegawa capped a fine display in stoppage time when she clipped the ball over goalkeeper May Zin New.

Japan’s five-goal romp was made to look a little sluggish later on Friday in Mumbai as their rivals for the title, Australia, thrashed Indonesia 18-0, with Sam Kerr scoring five and Emily van Egmond four.

Japan, who beat Australia in the final in both 2014 and 2018, are joined in Group C by South Korea and Vietnam, with the pair to face off later on Friday.

The 2022 edition of the Women’s Asian Cup has been expanded from eight to 12 nations and serves as Asia’s qualifier for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Asia has been granted five automatic berths at the finals in addition to Australia’s spot as co-hosts while two playoff spots are also available.

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