Japan claimed the Universiade title for the fifth time after beating Great Britain 2-0 in the men's soccer final Monday night.
The dual between the countries with a time-honored soccer tradition and an emerging Asian soccer powerhouse drew local fans to the Shenzhen Stadium.
Universiade DailyThe two sides, which clashed with each other in the group stage and ended with Japan's 1-0 victory over Britain, aroused roaring chants from the bleachers when they entered the main pitch. The British team amused local fans first by throwing gifts and kicking footballs to the bleachers 25 minutes before the game. The Brits then, carrying a banner reading "Thank You Shenzhen," ran around the soccer field, lightening up spectators' enthusiasm for the final showdown.
The Japanese side opened the match with a series of shots. In the 3rd minute, Japan's midfielder and skipper Miyasaka Masaki made an attempt on goal when he got the ball just over the half way mark, but it was blocked by the British goalie Nicholas Jupp. In the next five minutes, the Japanese repeatedly tried to score with swift and agile passes.
The British side started their offense in the 14th minute when its forward Mark Anderson got a pass from midfielder Jack Winter on the right and hit a header, but the ball flew out.
One minute later, Anderson drove the ball all the way to the Japanese penalty area, but couldn't break loose of the Japanese defender and was forced out. Minutes later, Anderson shot the ball again on the left of the goal, but was blocked by Japanese goalie Masuda Takuya.
Around the 22nd minute, British goalie Jupp foiled two shots from the rival, when Japanese Shiina Nobuyuki made a long shot from the left, followed by another shot from the right.
The Japanese broke into the rival's net in the 29th minute, when budding star Kawamoto Akito got a long pass from midfielder Musaka Mitsunari, tearing the Britain's backline defense and head-butting a goal.
Britain made two substitutions and intensified the offense after the second half began.
In the 58th minute, Japan's Maruyama Yuichi earned Japan a penalty kick after he was fouled by British defender Scott McCubbin. Japan's national team member Yamamura Kazuya converted the penalty into a goal. Japan took the lead 2-0.
Japan made another round of attack in the 78th minute. Musaka drove the ball to the left of the penalty area, and passed it to Kawamoto, who positioned in front of the penalty area but struck the ball on the post.
"Though Japan won the game 2-0, Britain is also a wonderful team. I'm not sure whether we could win if we were to play it again." said Japan's head coach Nakano Yuji at the news conference after the finals.
Japan has a sound system of nurturing soccer players, and that's why it got its place in the Asia Cup and the World Cup, said the coach.
As for the tactics Japan adopted to win the game, Nakano Yuji said, the final was a hard game, but Japan stemmed the height advantage of the British players.
British head coach Ellis James congratulated Japan for the victory, and encouraged his players, "Getting to the final is a very big thing for the British team. We haven't been this far in the tournament ever, so I'd like to congratulate my players… I would also like to thank people from Shenzhen for hosting such a wonderful game and looking after us. We hope to see you real soon."