• SOCCER

Japan Trounce North Korea 4-1 to Retain Asian Games Gold

Reuters
2023 Gold medallists team Japan pose during the medal ceremony for Women’s Football at Huanglong Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on Friday.

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Japan successfully defended their women’s Asian Games soccer gold medal on Friday as second-half goals from Haruka Osawa, Momoko Tanikawa and Remina Chiba sealed a 4-1 win over North Korea.

Despite being loudly backed by the majority of the 36,166 crowd, the North Koreans succumbed in six minutes midway through the second half as the Japanese claimed their third Asian Games title in the last four editions.

The North Koreans had been on top in the early exchanges but it counted for nothing as Japan went in front in the 10th minute on the counter as Yuzuki Yamamoto’s perceptive pass behind the defence released Yoshino Nakashima.

The striker made no mistake with her first-time finish, sending her shot beyond the outstretched hand of the advancing Kim Un Hui.

North Korea’s Choe Ku Mok and Hong Song Ok were both off target with efforts from distance while Japanese defender Toko Koga denied Sung Hyang Sim a shot at goal with a superbly timed challenge in the penalty area.

The equaliser did eventually come in the 38th minute after Wi Jong Sim sprinted down the left before sending in a low centre that Kim Kyong Yong powered into the bottom corner to the delight of the crowd.

Hong saw her effort cleared off the line by Koga as the North Koreans cranked up the pressure early in the second half before falling behind again, this time to a set-piece.

Tanikawa’s corner from the left flew over Ri Kum Hyang and substitute Osawa raced in to head home from close range.

Three minutes later Tanikawa doubled the lead with a shot from the edge of the area that goalkeeper Kim could only push into her own goal.

Japan closed out the game in the 72nd minute as Chiba bore down on goal after being released from deep to lash her shot over Kim and spark Japanese celebrations.

Hosts China earlier thrashed Uzbekistan 7-0 in the bronze medal decider.