Incheon: Defending champions Japan are through to the final at the 17th Asian Games after claiming a 3-0 win over Vietnam in Monday’s semi-finals.
In a game they dominated at the Incheon Football Stadium, the Japanese took the lead after 25 minutes when Mizuho Sakaguchi pounced on a loose ball and sent an emphatic finish into the back of the net, after Dang Thi Kieu Trinh could only punch Aya Miyama’s cross into her path.
Despite creating plenty of chances, they were however unable to add to their lead largely owing to some poor finishing, as well as a nervy but effective display from opposition keeper Dang.
Still, they did make it 2-0 eight minutes into the second half when Kana Kitahara did well to keep things alive after an earlier shot has smashed off the bar; hooking the ball back into the danger zone for Kita Osafune to emphatically head home.
And in the 74th minute, the result was put beyond doubt as Yuka Sugasawa made a darting run to the near post to escape her opponent before meeting another dangerous delivery from Miyama with a deft header past Dang for her side’s third.
With the win, Japan are through to the final for the second tournament running and it will be a repeat of the 2010 final after DPR Korea also advanced with a 2-1 triumph over neighbours Korea Republic.
It was the South Koreans that drew first blood at the Incheon Munhak Stadium in the 12th minute when Jung Seol-bin lined up a 25-yard freekick and unleashed a powerful effort, which dipped awkwardly just before the goal-line and squirmed in under Hong Myong-hui’s despairing dive.
But six minutes after the half-hour mark, DPR Korea pulled level after they cleverly carved out an opening; Ri Ye-gyong meeting a low cross from the right with a deft touch to steer the ball into the far corner.
With both sides failing to find a second goal in the second period, it looked like extra-time – and perhaps penalties – would be on the cards.
Nonetheless, in the third minute of injury-time, a poor back-header by Korea Republic’s Lim Seon-joo played Ra Un-sim through and although her initial effort was saved by Kim Jung-mi, substitute Ho Un-byol was on hand to slot home the rebound and win it for the North Koreans.
The final between Japan and DPR Korea will be held at the Incheon Munhak Stadium on Wednesday evening, while the bronze medal match between Korea Republic and Vietnam will also be played earlier that day.