07.06.2021 15:15 h

Japan sink Tajikistan after conceding first goal of qualifiers

Already-safe Japan conceded their first goal of World Cup qualifying but still recovered to beat Tajikistan 4-1 on Monday.

Japan, who were already assured of first place in Group F, took the lead against second-place Tajikistan through a sixth-minute goal from Kyogo Furuhashi.

But Ehsoni Panjshanbe headed in an equaliser three minutes later, breaching the Japanese defence for the first time in seven qualifiers.

Takumi Minamino put Japan back in front, extending his scoring streak to a seventh straight World Cup qualifier.

First international goals for Kento Hashimoto and Hayao Kawabe then made the game safe for Japan, who have scored 41 goals in Group F with only one conceded.

"The inexperienced players got on the scoresheet, and that will help them to grow," said Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu.

"We scored the first goal and we wanted to go after more, but our heads didn't go down when we conceded. The players kept at it, and I'm glad we could score more after that."

With his seven-game scoring run, Liverpool forward Minamino -- who spent last season on loan at Southampton -- tied a national record set by former Japan hero Keisuke Honda.

He finished off a pass from former school-mate Furuhashi, who was making his first start for Japan.

"I'm happy to draw level with such a great player," said Minamino.

"But I don't want to be satisfied just with that -- I want to look forward and get ready for the next game."

Tajikistan retained second place after Kyrgyzstan lost 1-0 to Mongolia earlier in the day.

A 34th-minute Oyunbaataryn Mijiddorj goal gave last-place Mongolia the win, putting a dent in Kyrgyzstan's World Cup chances.

Virus regulations ruled all three of Kyrgyzstan's goalkeepers out of the match, forcing defender Aizar Akmatov to start between the posts.

Kyrgyzstan's three regular 'keepers, two other players and 14 staff members were deemed as close contacts of a player who tested positive for Covid-19.

The players and staff, who all tested negative six times before and after arriving in Group F host country Japan, were barred from involvement in the game.