Guwahati, Oct 8 (IANS) Japan rode on a hat-trick by Keito Nakamura to thrash hapless Honduras 6-1 in their Group E match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Sunday.
Nakamura (22nd, 30th, 43rd minutes) scored all his goals in the opening half as the Japanese started their campaign on a rousing note.
Former FC Barcelona academy member Takefusa Kubo — often tagged as the ‘Asian Messi’ — scored in the 45th minte while Taisei Miyashiro (51st) and Toichi Suzuki (90th) struck after the resumption.
True to his reputation, Kubo was in outstanding form and provided the crucial final assist in two of Nakamura’s goals apart from finding the net himself.
Centre-forward Patrick Palacios scored the only goal of the game for Honduras in the 36th minute.
Japan are now second in Group E with three points. France, who outclassed New Caledonia 7-1 earlier in the day, are also on three points, but are the group leaders due to a better goal difference.
Japan dominated proceedings right from the opening whistle and put the Honduras defence under constant presure.
Although the central Americans tried to hit back on the counter several times, their attacks fizzled out in the final third.
The Asians were rewarded for their domination when Kubo sent a cross into the rival penalty box after Honduras defence failed to properly clear away a corner. Nakamura headed the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal from within the six-yard box to put Japan in the lead.
The combination of Kubo and Nakamura successfully pierced the Honduras defence again a short while later when the former picked out his teammate inside the rival penalty box with an accurate pass. Nakamura produced a neat dribble and an excellent finish, bulging the net with a left-footed shot.
Although Palacios reduced the margin for Honduras, Japan restored the two-goal cushion just before half-time. Nakamura returned the favour this time, producing the assist as Kubo beat Honduras goalkeeper Alex Rivera from close range.
All hoped of a comeback by Honduras were erased shortly after the break, as Miyashiro scored the fifth goal for Japan before Suzuki added a sixth to ensure all three points went to the Asian outfit.