- Ritsu Doan brace sees Japan come back from 2-0 down
- Japan progress to last 16 as one of the best third-placed sides
- Italy struck twice in the first ten minutes
Italy and Japan played out a 2-2 draw – with a Ritsu Doan brace earning a point for the Asian champions – that saw both progress into the knockout round from FIFA U-20 World Cup Group D in second and third place.
In seemingly a straight-shootout for second spot, Italy arrived with the ace of goal difference up their sleeve. They looked like they would be able to keep it firmly tucked away, though, as they raced into a two-goal lead inside ten minutes.
A stunning volleyed cross from the left Andrea Favilli was expertly turned in by Riccardo Orsolini. Then, a smart free-kick from Francesco Cassata – clipped over the wall – allowed Guiseppe Panico to slam home.
It would have been easy to assume that was that. But that was not accounting for Doan. A chink of light appeared when he got a stud on Keita Endo’s in-swinging cross to nutmeg Andrea Zaccagno and halve the deficit before the break.
His second was something special. Charging into the area, the three Italian defenders around knew they could not touch the fleet-footed Gamba Osaka man and, with Zaccagno on-rushing, he nudged the ball into the net.