Japan fought back valiantly from a 3-0 deficit against Brazil in Queretaro, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Seleção from booking their place in the semi-finals of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup with a 3-2 victory. They will take on fellow South Americans Uruguay in Guadalajara on 7 July in yet another meeting of classic rivals at these junior world finals.
Brazil came out in the mood against Japan. Striker Leo, on for suspended young heartthrob Lucas Piazon, opening the scoring after only 16 minutes. The big man’s flicked header from a corner-kick left Kosuke Nakamura with no chance, and looked very similar to the one he scored late in Brazil’s last game against Ecuador.
The South Americans looked a different side today to the one that had entertained the fans in Guadalajara, changing their system to a 4-3-3 and opting for a more direct route to goal rather than using wide men out on the flanks. After an untidy opening, the Japanese soon settled down and Takumi Minamino had a decent chance in the 21st minute that was smothered well by Brazilian goalkeeper Charles.
The Asians were working themselves back into the contest, but were too often guilty of over-passing in the first half when a more direct path seemed the better option. Leo had another chance in the 28th minute, but his bending shot curled just the wrong side of the post from the edge of the box. Six minutes before the interval he had another chance. Collecting a nice pass from Guilherme, he slammed a powerful strike from the corner of the penalty area that only just skipped up and over the crossbar.
The early exchanges of the second half saw Brazil pull away. Ademilson grabbed his fifth goal of these finals with a calm finish after some fine approach work from Guilherme to put the South Americans 2-0 up. Adryan added another, making it 3-0 on the hour-mark. The playmaker, who will miss the semi-final after picking up another yellow card, made his time on the pitch count. Getting on the end of a spilled rebound from Misael’s shot, he jinked and darted inside the penalty area to make it 3-0.
Shoya Nakajima managed to pull one back for the Japanese in the 77th minute with a simple tap-in from substitute Daisuke Takagi’s elegant work up the flank. And the East Asians’ late revival continued when Fumiya Hayakawa got on the end of a rebound off the crossbar to make for a very nervy finish indeed.
Brazil managed to hang on for the 3-2 result, however, and now head back to Guadalajara where they will take on a familiar foe in Uruguay. The Celeste also beat Asian opposition in their quarter-final earlier in the day, besting Uzbekistan 2-0 in Monterrey.