Saints’ Maya Yoshida got off to a winning start in the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates as his Japan side overturned an early deficit to defeat Turkmenistan 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon.
Yoshida captained the Japanese for the full 90 minutes of a surprisingly dramatic encounter at the Al Nahyan stadium where Turkmenistan pushed the five-time winners all the way to the final whistle.
It was they who took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of what will surely go on to be one of the goals of the tournament, Arslanmurat Amanov smashing into the top corner from 35 yards out after coming infield from the left wing.
The Samurai Blue responded after the interval, Yuya Osako’s brace restoring order before Ritsu Doan put the result beyond doubt with a smart finish on the turn from the edge of the area.
Ahmet Atayev pulled a goal back from the penalty spot 10 minutes from time but Japan held on for a valuable three points. In a group also featuring Uzbekistan, Yoshida’s side next face Oman on Sunday.