Hiroki Sakai (L) of Japan and team mates goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda (C) and Maya Yoshida celebrate at the end of their men's quarterfinal soccer match against Egypt at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford in Manchester, August 4, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Andrea Comas )
Japan put on a virtuosic performance against Egypt and became the first team to reach the semi-finals after a 3-0 win.
The win represented the fourth straight clean sheet put up by the Samurai who are the only squad remaining that has yet to concede a goal. However, this match was special because it represented the first offensive uproar of the Japanese squad. Through the group stage, Japan only found the back of the net two times.
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Kensuke Nagai got the festivities rolling for the Asian squad in the 14th minute when he received a Hiroshi Kiyotake pass and put in his second goal of the tournament. Nagai was injured however during the play and was promptly replaced by Manabu Saito.
Egypt woke up briefly from another wise overwhelmed performance when Mohamed Aboutrika sent a header wide. Four minutes before the half, the referee awarded Saadeldin Saad a red card for a foul on Saito.
In the second half, Japan took advantage of their man advantage and added a second goal in the 79th minute when defender Maya Yoshida headed a Kiyotake set-piece into the net. Just four minutes later, Ohigara sent the ball into the box and it was met by a header from Yuki Otsu who added his second goal of the tournament and gave Japan a 3-0 lead.
Egypt had a strong tournament in which they progressively improved from match to match. But the Japanese, who were primed for an offensive outburst, were simply too much for the African squad. Next up for Japan is Mexico.