An own goal from Ri Yong-chol gave South Korea victory over North Korea, while Japan downed China 2-1 to set up a showdown between the World Cup-bound nations for this year’s East Asian Championship.
Japan’s Gen Shoji scored with an effort from the edge of the centre circle three minutes from time to double his side’s lead after Yu Kobayashi had put Vahid Halilhodzic’s side ahead just three minutes earlier.
A penalty in stoppage time from China’s Yu Dabao could not deny the hosts, who move to the top of the standings with six points having already defeated North Korea on Saturday, with South Korea second on four points.
“It was a wonderful game and it was a wonderful win for my team,” said Halilhodzic.
“In the second half we had some problems and China could create chances to score, but after that the quality of play was really good. “We showed really good football and the combinations, especially up front, were really good. We had some very good chances to score but the ball didn’t go in.”
South Korea picked up their first win of the competition after Ri deflected a cross from Kim Min-woo into his own goal under pressure from the opposition.
The win follows on from their 2-2 draw with the Chinese on Saturday to keep the pressure on Japan. A victory for Shin Tae-yong’s team at the weekend will see them successfully defend the title they won in 2015.
“Japan are playing at home, but South Korea have very strong players and we want to show our strength because both teams are going to the World Cup,” said Shin.
“The best thing would be if both teams do their best and play to win and then everyone can be happy. We are preparing ourselves for that.”
North Korea coach Joern Andersen has seen his side narrowly lose both of their opening games in the competition and the Norwegian claimed his players were overawed against the Japanese.
“It was a special game for us, for the players and the country, and I think in the first 30 minutes they were nervous and not as free as in the game against Japan,” he said.
“They were a little closed and not so prepared like against Japan.”