• Kyodo


Ado Onaiwu opened his international account by scoring a first-half hat trick as Japan beat Kyrgyzstan 5-1 on Tuesday, claiming its eighth straight win to wrap up the second Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 25-year-old had a goal harshly ruled out for offside when he made his Samurai Blue debut in Friday’s friendly against Serbia, but the forward shone in his first national-team start at Panasonic Stadium in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.

“I’ve managed to get end product in terms of goals, but I feel I can do more with our link-up plays,” the Yokohama F. Marinos forward said. “We’ll keep plugging away, aiming high together.”

Manager Hajime Moriyasu had Takumi Minamino return to Liverpool and left regulars Daichi Kamada and Junya Ito on the bench, but Takuma Asano offered pace down the left and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto trickery on the right as Onaiwu continued to impress up front.

Moments after finding an effort caught near the line by keeper Pavel Matiash, Onaiwu got his debut goal by burying a 27th-minute penalty after his goal-bound header was blocked by Aizar Akmatov’s hand.

Onaiwu grabbed his second four minutes later, midfielder Hayao Kawabe slaloming past three Kyrgyzstan players down the right before sending a low cross with the forward scrambling in at the far post.

The third came just two minutes later with a fine header after left back Ryoya Ogawa’s precise cross found the Marinos forward unmarked in the area.

Kyrgyzstan pulled one back right before the half, Gulzhigit Alykulov’s dribble down the right drawing a foul from Hidemasa Morita inside the area before captain Mirlan Murzaev converted from the spot.

Japan continued to dominate after the break as Kyogo Furuhashi, replacing captain Genki Haraguchi, had a left-footed strike narrowly curl away from the post in the 63rd minute and Kawabe had his effort from distance saved by Matiash.

Right back Miki Yamane also tested the visitors’ goal with a deflected long-range effort before Sho Sasaki finally added Japan’s fourth, heading in a corner in the 72nd minute.

Takuma Asano scored the fifth five minutes later, Furuhashi turning well in the middle of the pitch and playing the forward through before Asano calmly slotted past the keeper to complete a superb counter.

“We’ve made a lot of changes from the Serbia game but they showed there’s the depth in the squad with a lot of good players,” said Moriyasu. “(Onaiwu) showed us why he’s the top goal-scoring Japanese player in the J. League (this season with 10 goals).”

The final round of Asian qualifiers will start in September. Joining Japan in the 12-team, two-group stage will be East Asia rivals South Korea and China, Southeast Asia’s Vietnam and Australia, Central Asia’s Iran, and West Asia’s Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Syria, Oman and Lebanon.

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