PALEMBANG, INDONESIA – A goal in the final seconds gave Japan women’s soccer squad a 1-0 win against China in the final in on Friday, and its second-ever Asian Games gold medal.
The goal, scored in the 90th minute by Yuika Sugasawa in the pouring rain at JSC Gelora Sriwijaya, crushed China’s hopes of winning a record fourth Asian Games women’s soccer title.
The severe conditions left the teams struggling to string any coherent play together, but China managed to conjure the best chances.
Most of the action in the first half took place in front of the goal with world No. 17 China dominating possession, with half of their eight shots on target. Japan ‘keeper Ayaka Yamashita saved the day by holding off powerful strikes coming from China forward Li Ying.
A 75th-minute left-foot strike from Gu Yasha was China’s most promising foray forward, but Yamashita got her fingertips to the shot and tipped it just over the bar.
The goal came on the break. With Japan streaming forward, Sugasawa got on the end of an Emi Nakajima cross and hit a glancing header to the left of China’s goalkeeper Zhao Lina.
“China has been improving remarkably, and they held the pace from the beginning to into the second half of the game. The players remained calm and endured, and made use of the few chances we had,” Japan head coach Asako Takakura said.