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Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010

Japan tops China in Asian Games soccer opener

CHINA (Kyodo) Japan started its march at the 16th Asian Games with a clinical 3-0 victory over China in the men's soccer on Monday evening.

Goals from Ryohei Yamazaki, Kensuke Nagai and Daisuke Suzuki gave Takashi Sekizuka's side its first points in Group A, and the Japanese delegation their first victory of the Nov. 12-27 Games.

The opening ceremony is Friday.

The crowd at Tianhe Stadium was well under control, despite concerns about the safety of the match in light of the political tension between the two nations.

Apart from some boos at the start of the Japanese national anthem, the game proceeded in a friendly manner as Japan reached the board in the 11th minute through Yamazaki.

The Jubilo Iwata midfielder scored the first goal of the tournament for Sekizuka's side with a left-footed volley, after a ball over the top of the defense from Nagai, who made it 2-0 on the other side of halftime.

In the 59th minute, Nagai headed down a right-wing cross from Keigo Higashi to control before firing past Wang Dalei, who had a fine individual performance in goal.

Had it not been for Wang's reflexes, Japan could have embarrassed the hosts before their own fans.

Japan tripled their lead in the 65th minute through Suzuki, who nodded in from close range following Kota Mizunuma's free kick. Yuki Saneto gave away a free kick in injury time, but captain Zhang Linpeng fired wide left before the final whistle.

Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan are also in the group. Japan plays Malaysia on Wednesday and Kyrgyzstan three days later.

The top two from each of the six four-team groups advance to the knockout stage. Four third-place teams in order of records also qualify for the next round.

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