Group B – MD2: Syria 2-1 Japan
Bangkok: A breakaway goal two minutes from time by Syria’s Ala’a Aldin Dali condemned Japan to a 2-1 defeat at Thammasat Stadium on Sunday that sees the 2016 champions exit the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 with one game remaining.
Dali raced half the length of the field before slotting past Japanese goalkeeper Keisuke Saito to leave the Japanese rooted to the bottom of Group B without a point from their first two games and with no way to progress beyond the opening phase of the competition.
Syria join Saudi Arabia at the top of the standings with four points from their first two games and the duo will fight it out for top spot on Wednesday, while Qatar will hope to pick up a win against the eliminated Japanese to keep their hopes alive of a place in the last eight.
Ayman Hakeem’s side collected their first win of competition having being held by Qatar in their opening game and they made the best possible start when, with six minutes on the clock, they were awarded a penalty.
Abdul Rahman Barakat confidently converted following a review by the Video Assistant Referee having earlier broken down the Japan right and seen his shot palmed wide for a corner by goalkeeper Keisuke Osako.
From the resulting set-piece, referee Ali Al Qaysi awarded the spot kick for Koki Machida’s high challenge on Fares Arnaout. Barakat made no mistake, stroking the ball into the bottom corner three minutes after the initial incident to leave Moriyasu’s side shell shocked.
The Japanese remained flatfooted for much of the first quarter of the game but, by the half hour mark, they were back on level terms.
It was Yuki Soma who struck, after seeing his initial attempt at goal blocked by Khalil Ibrahim. However, the rebound fell back at his feet and the Kashima Antlers wing-back made no mistake as he placed his shot from the edge of the area inside William Ghannam’s right post.
The Japanese attempted to increase the tempo early in the second half and Ayase Ueda missed a rare second half opportunity seven minutes from time when he sliced Daiki Hashioka’s curling cross wide.
Moriyasu’s side were punished in the harshest possible way five minutes later when Dali capitalised on Japan’s growing desperation to score when he raced forward before calmly stroking his shot past Osako to send the East Asians out.