(Extended highlights of Japan’s excellent victory versus the Netherlands in the 2012 Toulon Tournament, which leaves Group A finely poised. Japan must beat Egypt in their final group game to be assured of a quarter-final place, who they meet on 27 May)
0 Min: The Under-23 Japan national team face a very difficult test as they come face-to-face with the Netherlands, who coasted to a 3-0 victory in their first Group A game versus Egypt. The Samurai Blue must take at least a point today to have any hope of progressing to the knock-out stage of the competition, and to ensure that their preparation for the London 2012 games remains on track. I’ll be bringing you coverage of all eighty minutes, and team news will appear here very shortly.
0 Min: Japan – Ando; Higa, Suzuki, Oiwa, Yamamura; Muramatsu, Takagi, Usami, Ogihara; Saito, Ibusuki
0 Min: Netherlands – Bizot, Ligeon, Reinstra, Nelom,l Wijaldum, Lukoki, Propper, Jansen, Berghuis, Ten Voorder, Gouriye
1 Min: Referee M. Tsynkevich blows his whistle and gets this match underway.
2 Mins: GOAL! The worst possible start for Japan. Jody Lukoki, who excelled on the wing against Egypt, speeds down the right, sends over a cross, and a delightful Ninos Gouriye hooked volley, over his shoulder into the top left corner, opens the scoring for the Netherlands.
3 Mins: Japan U-23 0 Netherlands U-23 1
5 Mins: GOAL! Japan are immediately level. Manabu Saito runs close to forty yards with the ball from the left touchline, past both Ben Reinstra and Kevin Jansen, and although he scuffs his shot somewhat, Bizot’s attempted save diving to his right is poor and Japan equalise.
5 Mins: Japan U-23 1 Netherlands U-23 1
8 Mins: Usami releases Takagi down the right, and he is able to run forty yards into the penalty area. He strikes well, but it’s a good save from Bizot this time as the shot went across the angle. Ibusuki just couldn’t stretch far enough to divert the ball in.
13 Mins: The Netherlands are looking to use the pace of Kukoki frequently. One-on-one with Higa, the left-back is struggling. Higa can’t prevent the winger from crossing, and it’s diverted away for a throw by Daisuke Suzuki.
16 Mins: Much more positive from Japan in these opening fifteen minutes. They were lacking in movement and purpose against Turkey and winning few tackles, but Takagi, Saito, Ibusuki and Oiwa are making strides into opposition territory. The introduction of Usami into the starting line-up has been particularly crucial.
21 Mins: Oiwa hangs over a cross which is too strong for Ibusuki, who sprints to the left touchline to collect the ball. It’s returned to midfield, and Usami’s chipped throughball is a little heavy for Daisuke Suzuki, up from central defence.
23 Mins: A pass finds Ibusuki with a clear run on goal, but the centre forward’s pace has never been his strongest point. He beats Reinstra who tries to cover, but Nelom, potentially putting an arm across his face, tackles fairly in the official’s view and brings the ball clear on the edge of the penalty area.
27 Mins: It’s quite an impressive performance so far from the Japanese, who have shut down the Dutch in midfield, and have resorted to a few hopeful long passes rather than the intricate passing and movement they displayed against Egypt.
30 Mins: Japan have a free-kick ten yards beyond the halfway line, and it’s played by Ogihara to Takagi in the right channel. It’s then returned back to the central midfielder, but his cross is poor and the Netherlands are able to break.
31 Mins: Lukoki has swapped to the left-wing to put some pressure on Oiwa, who has been playing in a very advanced position for the Samurai Blue. He has a chance to score, but his attempted lob, after Kevin Jansen’s shot had been blocked well initially, is too casual and well clear of Ando’s bar.
33 Mins: Almost a lead for Japan. A disguised pass from Saito allows Usami to burst into penalty area, and his bending shot is smartly stopped by Bizot. Usami is then unable to take advantage of the rebound.
36 Mins: A corner for the Netherlands. Ten Voorde squares a cross along the six yard area, and Suzuki nods behind with Lukoki loitering with intent.
37 Mins: Japan struggled under crosses against Egypt, but this set piece is poor, low and cleared away from the near post.
40 Mins: The last action of the first period finds Japan breaking down the left, but as Yusuke Higa collects the ball on the overlap from Saito, his pull back is behind Ibusuki and a promising attack and the first period come to an end.
HT: Japan U-23 1 Netherlands U-23 1
HT: Takashi Sekizuka will be much happier with the performance of his side today after the drab display on Wednesday. Usami’s movement has caused problems for Jansen and the defence, and Saito has been a frequent threat, particularly in the left channel.
HT: The players are back on the pitch, and Ricky Van Haaren has replaced Steven Berghuis, while Maiken Kieftenbeld takes the places of Kevin Jansen.
41 Mins: And the match is back underway.
42 Mins: Lukoki is back on the right-hand side of the field as this half commences, and he immediately makes gains as he passes Higa with relative ease, but his delivery, inconsistent at times, fails to find a teammate and is dealt with by the Japanese defence.
42 Mins: A corner for Japan, to be taken from the right by Takahiro Ogihara. It’s taken short again, and badly executed.
43 Mins: GOAL! Japan are in front, and it’s Hiroshi Ibusuki who scores the goal. Usami’s run beats the offside trap from Takagi’s lovely through ball, and he unselfishly plays the ball across the penalty area for Ibusuki to slide home.
43 Mins:Japan U-23 2 Netherlands U-23 1
46 Mins: Manabu Saito wastes a superb chance to give his team a two-goal cushion. He cleverly drops his shoulder and waits for Bizot to commit himself, but then slices his shot wide of the right upright just inside the penalty area.
47 Mins: GOAL! The Netherlands are level, and it’s a run down the right from Lukoki which does the damage. Once more he passes Higa with ease, and his cross to the back post is finished with aplomb on the volley by Rick Ten Voorde. Kazuki Oiwa should have been better positioned, however, drawn to the ball and leaving the substitute unattended six yards from goal.
47 Mins: Japan U-23 2 Netherlands U-23 2
50 Mins: A superb pass from Ibusuki, dropping deep into midfield, releases Saito, and he atempts to chip Bizot from outside the penalty area. There’s just not enough lift on his pass. Yoshiaki Takagi might have been a better option, as he was clear on the left.
54 Mins: A good save from Ando after the Netherlands work the ball around the penalty area, and then a superb block from Yamamura stops Lukoki getting his shot away, resulting in a corner. Van Haaren takes from the right, and an unmarked Reinstra heads wide with the goal at his mercy. The Netherlands should be in front.
56 Mins: Lukoki drives down the right hand-side once more, and Higa is unable to cope with the wingr’s pace and skill. He cuts inside with a cute flick off his heel, but bends his left-footed shot from sixteen yards over Ando’s goal.
59 Mins: Higa lucky not to have given away a free-kick as Ruben Ligeon joins the attack, trying to block the ball out for a goal-kick but dragging the defender down after a sustained priod of possession from the Netherlands had seen the ball swept effortlessly around the pitch.
60 Mins: Japan finding it very difficult to regain possession at the moment.
62 Mins: A first change for Japan, Ibusuki comes off for Yuki Otsu, while Ninos Gouriye is substituted for Nacer Barazite.
64 Mins: CROSSBAR A stunning strike from Van Haaren at a set piece from approximately 35 yards keeps rising, but crashes back off the underside of the crossbar. It hits Ando on his shoulders as it rebounds away from goal, but it’s safely away.
68 Mins: After a certain foul from Yoshiaki Takagi is ignored by the assistant referee, Higa puts an arm across Lukoki as he was due to run clear. In the opinion of the referee it’s fair.
70 Mins: Higa is a little fortunate as he tries to play the ball off Baracite for a goal-kick, as the Netherlands player simply regains possession. He feeds Lukoki, but his left-footed cross is out of play.
73 Mins: GOAL! Japan are in the lead as a result of some poor Dutch defending. Saito’s cross should be dealt with by Legion, but his mis-kicks and gives the ball straight to Usami. His pass finds an entirely unmarked Ogihara, who thrashes the ball into the top-right corner.
73 Mins: Japan U-23 3 Netherlands U-23 2
77 Mins: Kota Mizunuma comes on for Manabu Saito, who has been excellent for the Samurai Blue today.
78 Mins: Lukoki beats Ogihara with a delightful flick on the right before a good sliding challenge from Usami brings his run to an end.
80 Mins: Takashi Usami, possibly the best Japanese player on the field today, makes his way off the field for Keigo Higashi.
80 Mins: Three additional minutes to be played, with the ball safely in Shunsuke Ando’s hands.
80 Mins+1: A superb pass out of defence by Suzuki is collected by Kota Mizunuma on the right wing, and he makes a strong run before swinging the ball crossfield to Takagi. He controls, stepping across a couple of defenders before taking a shot on the 18-yard line, which is deflected away for a corner.
80 Mins+1: And that’s the last action Takagi will take, as he’s replaces by Yuya Osaka.
80 Mins+2: The corner is wasted by the Japanese, as they give away a quick free-kick.
80 Mins+2: Lukoki wins perhaps the final corner of the game for the Netherlands.
80 Mins+3: It’s swung in by Van Haaren, and the Dutch keeper is up for the set piece. It’s out behind for another corner, and this time Ando punches away from under his crossbar.
80 Mins+4: There will be no more for the Japan goalkeeper to do, as the official signals for the end of the match.
FT: Japan U-23 3 Netherlands U-23 2
FT: A superb result for Japan which ensures their presence in the competition continues to the final group game, where they will face an Egypt side who were easily beaten by the Netherlands in their opening match.
FT: Thank you for joining me, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s coverage.