Japanese thrash Thailand in quarter-finals of AFC Women’s Asian Cup

Japan’s Yuika Sugasawa in action with Thailand’s Pornpirun Philawan at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. (Reuters photo)

Two-time defending champions Japan booked their place in the semi-finals of the Women’s Asian Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Thailand on Sunday but joint-favourites Australia crashed out with defeat to South Korea.

Chelsea midfielder Ji So-yun scored from distance with two minutes remaining to earn the Koreans a 1-0 victory in Pune over the 2018 runners-up and set up a semi-final against either Taiwan or the Philippines.

The victories ensure Japan and South Korea qualify for next year’s Women’s World Cup.

The Japanese, meanwhile, advanced to a last four meeting with either China or Vietnam despite seeing Mana Iwabuchi’s weak penalty saved by Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing 15 minutes into the last eight encounter in Navi Mumbai.

Yuika Sugasawa, however, went on to score four for the champions with Hinata Miyazawa, Rin Sumida and Riko Ueki also on target.

Sugasawa put the Japanese ahead when she slid in to poke Miyazawa’s centre into the roof of the net in the 27th minute while Miyazawa doubled the advantage two minutes into first half injury time from inside the six yard box.

From there the Japanese went on the rampage. Sumida added the third three minutes after the start and Sugasawa hit her second from the spot.

Ueki scored the fifth with 15 minutes remaining before two more from Sugasawa in the final 10 minutes completed a comprehensive victory.

Former champions Australia will not be in a position to reclaim the title they won in 2010 after they were eliminated by South Korea.

The Matildas were given a let-off five minutes from the end of the first half of their quarter-final with the Koreans when Cho So-hyun fired her penalty over the bar.

A lengthy VAR check by referee Qin Liang after Caitlin Foord’s challenge on Lee Geum-min resulted in the Chinese official pointing to the spot, but Cho’s attempt was woefully off target.

Australia had dominated the opening 45 minutes, with Sam Kerr rattling the crossbar with a header and Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi called upon to deny both the Chelsea striker and Mary Fowler.

The game looked headed for extra-time when, with two minutes remaining, Ji picked up possession 30 metres from goal and fired a right footed shot into the top corner, giving Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams little chance.

The Women’s Asian Cup doubles up as the continent’s qualifying tournament for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Asia has five berths at the tournament in addition to Australia’s direct qualification as co-hosts. Two other nations will be granted playoff places.