BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – Hwang In-beom scored the only goal as South Korea beat Japan to capture the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Championship on Wednesday.
The Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder scored in the 28th minute as the tournament host finished with a perfect 3-0 record.
After being outhustled and outplayed for the first hour, Japan, largely unable to get good shots from inside the penalty area, attempted to strike from long range but came up empty.
The result left Japan, looking for its second championship and first in four tournaments, second in the four-team competition with a 2-1 record. The tournament was an important test for a young domestic side full of players eager to earn a place in next year’s team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Although we came in expecting to be under pressure, our opponents seized control of the game and that was that,” Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said.
“Our players were a bit fatigued, having just finished their season, and their preparations were not ideal. Still, I believe they showed some potential to do well in 2020. I’m proud of how they fought right up to the end.”
South Korea, however, was unlucky not to have won by a larger margin. South Korea took six corner kicks in the first half hour. From those, one ninth-minute header came off the left post and a few minutes later, another came off the right.
Hwang capitalized on his team’s possession advantage by rifling in a shot from the middle of the penalty area.
The win lifted South Korea’s record in internationals against Japan to 40-13 with 23 draws.
In the other game on the final night of action, China defeated Hong Kong 2-0 to finish third.
Nadeshiko Japan seized the women’s EAFF E-1 crown on Tuesday, capping a perfect 3-0 tournament with a 1-0 win over South Korea.