Nakajima lifts Japan in extra time

kyodo

Shoya Nakajima scored twice in extra time to keep Japan on course for a place at this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics with a 3-0 win over Iran in the quarterfinals of the Asian Under-23 Championship on Friday.

On as a late replacement for Shinya Yajima, substitute Yuta Toyokawa headed home in the 96th minute to put Japan in front, before two clinical strikes from FC Tokyo man Nakajima put Makoto Teguramori’s men into the semifinals of the last Rio qualifying tournament, where they will face the winner of Saturday’s match between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match qualify for Rio.

Japan, which reached the semifinals of the 2012 London Games, is aiming to qualify for its sixth consecutive Olympics.

“It was an electrifying game,” said Teguramori. “We knew that we were in good condition if it came down to being a battle of endurance.

“I was going to start Toyokawa but went with Nakajima and both of those players performed, and that will give us momentum.”

Teguramori added: “We’re in a very good mood at the minute and we want to continue in that way so we can qualify for the Rio Olympic Games. I’m very satisfied.”

Japan came through the first- round phase largely untroubled, winning all three of its games in a Group B featuring North Korea, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.