|November 3rd, 2009|
|07||Round-Robin||11:30am||ITA - JPN||0 - 3 (0 - 1)||Final|
The first game of the day between Italy and Japan started in windy and cold weather conditions, under a steady drizzle, and stayed balanced for a while. Italy managed to force a penalty-corner early but they could not do much out of it against the fast running Japanese defenders. Japan seemed to struggle to switch into their usual high gear while Italy kept their well organized defensive structure. It took a penalty-corner in the 17th minute for the score to evolve, Manabu HATAKEYAMA’s direct shot surprising Davide GUIDA in the Italian goal.
The crowd had not much else to get excited about for the rest of the period, apart from the occasional instant shots from the Japanese strikers, and half-time was reached with a meager one-goal lead for Japan. The same pattern prevailed at the beginning of second half, even when Italy were reduced to ten players on a green card.
With time passing, the Italians became more entrepreneurial and forced another penalty-corner; Massimo LANZANO’s flick had the Japanese keeper beaten but went inches wide. It is finally only in the 61st minute that Hiroki SAKAMOTO managed to score the second goal: a decisive circle penetration was followed by a messy situation in front of the goal-keeper and the ball trickled over the line.
With the floodgates now opened, Japan added another penalty-corner to earn their third wins of the competition, putting them in ideal situation before playing Pakistan and France, while Italy is still chasing their first point, and first goal, of the tournament.