China's midfielder Yang Yang (C) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during the team's quarterfinal game against Japan at the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, Aug 18, 2011. [Photo by Cui Meng/chinadaily.com.cn]
Team China ended their Universiade football dreams after losing 2-3 to Japan in the game's knockout stage at the Bao'an Stadium in Shenzhen Thursday night.
The victory ensures four-time Universiade champion Japan a last four spot, setting a semifinal clash with Team Russia, who won over Uruguay 5-4 in a penalty shot.
China used the same starters from the last three group matches to take on Japan, who have won the Universiade football title four times with a team consisting of members of the national football team and the Olympic football team. Higa Yusuke, one of the key players of the Japanese football team during the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, was benched throughout the game.
The game opened with a dramatic Japanese goal when Japanese forward Senuma Yuji took a long pass from the backfield and rushed through the slack Chinese defense to lob a goal, leaving Chinese goalie Liu Tianxin no time to react.
China later was awarded a free kick, but was intercepted. In the 8th minute, China's midfielder and most productive scorer Fan Zhiqiang ran to the right of the Japanese goalpost before a rival defender kicked the ball out of the bottom line, earning a corner for the Chinese. Yet the ball was again head-butted out by the Japanese, though China's failed a second corner on the left.
In the 22nd minute, Fan Zhiqiang took a pass from midfielder Yang Yang and kicked the ball from the right, which bounced on a Japanese player's foot and flew into the net, when most Japanese players gathered away from him and seemed hesitating to lay siege.
Two minutes later, China intercepted the ball among Japan's round of attack. Yang Yang, China's one and only Universiade athlete who is also studying for a PhD, drove it all the way from the backfield, broke loose of the rival defense and kicked a long shot between two Japanese players just outside the penalty area. China took the lead 2-1, leaving home fans in ecstasy.