A win, but a ‘no way’. Japanese fans who watched Japan’s soccer team play a shaky game, even coming from behind to beat Vietnam, were anxious.

The Japan national soccer team came back from 1-2 down to win a hard-fought 4-2 victory against Vietnam in the first leg of their Group D match at the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup at the Altumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday (July 14) at 8:30 p.m. KST.

In the 11th minute, Takumi Minamino rattled the Vietnamese net with a low, powerful right-footed shot from inside the box in a chaotic situation following a Japanese corner kick.

Five minutes after Japan’s goal, in the 16th minute of the first half, Nguyen Dinh Bac scored the equalizer with a stunning acrobatic back-header off a short corner kick that Vietnam curled in from the left with their right foot.

Vietnam gained momentum and took the lead in the 33rd minute. A free kick from a dirt spot about 35 meters from the goal was sent into the box, and Japan’s 21-year-old mixed-race goalkeeper Zaion Suzuki reacted late and barely saved a header from inside the box. Vietnam’s No. 10 striker Pham Thuan Hai, who was rushing forward, slotted the ball into the empty net with his right foot to make it 2-1.

Shocked by the 1-2 deficit, Japan equalized in the 45th minute. After receiving a pass from Wataru Endo in the center of the box, Minamino cleverly weaved his way through the crotch of the defense and slotted a right-footed shot into the far post corner beyond the reach of the goalkeeper to tie the game at 2-2.

Japan came from behind in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Winger Keiko Nakamura made it 3-2 with an exquisite right-footed curling shot from the left half space just outside the box. In the 40th minute, Japan’s European attacking trio of Doan Ritsu, Kubo Takefusa, and Ayase Ueda combined for a right-footed shot from the center of the box that found the back of the net to seal the 4-2 victory.

According to Nikkan Sports, Japanese fans were anxious for about 12 minutes between the 33rd minute of the first half, when Japan fell behind to Vietnam, and the 45th minute, when the equalizer came. On social networking site X, “Vietnam” was the No. 2 search term in Japan, with searches including “Will it be Vietnam that stops Japan’s 10-game winning streak?” and “Japan has been reversed. I can understand how Germany and Spain feel (after Japan’s win),” “Vietnam is showing Liverpool-like tactics,” “Japan’s upside-down feeling against Germany,” “Coach Trucier is making fun of Japan,” and “Vietnam’s time before Germany and Spain” became popular posts.

The social media posts show that Japanese fans were uneasy about the shocking upset by Vietnam.

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