Hernandez double fires Columbus in 2-0 MLS playoff winFootball
Ueda scores hat-trick as Japan thrash Myanmar to start World Cup bid
Ayase Ueda scored a hat-trick as Japan got their bid to reach an eighth straight World Cup off to an emphatic start with a 5-0 win over Myanmar on Thursday.
The hosts were missing injured Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma but Feyenoord striker Ueda picked up the slack with a ruthless display of finishing in Osaka.
Daichi Kamada and Ritsu Doan also got on the scoresheet as Japan took control of a World Cup qualifying group that also includes North Korea and Syria.
Japan hammered Myanmar 10-0 the last time they met, in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
The visitors held firm for the first 10 minutes this time round but they were undone by a piece of skill by Takumi Minamino.
The former Liverpool forward, now at Monaco, picked out Ueda with a floated pass over the heads of the defence, and Ueda nodded it home for the opener.
Lazio midfielder Kamada made it two just before the half-hour mark, uncorking a left-foot shot from the edge of the box that flew past the goalkeeper.
Ueda gave Japan a third on the stroke of half time, turning home a pass from Doan with a deft first-time finish from a tight angle.
The striker completed his hat-trick five minutes into the second half, turning home another razor-sharp pass from Minamino.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu made a flurry of changes once the result was safe, even replacing goalkeeper Keisuke Osako with 10 minutes remaining.
But there was just enough time for Doan to score a fifth, controlling the ball in the box before drilling it past the goalkeeper.
Japan have now won their last seven games, scoring 29 and conceding only five.
They are away to Syria in their next game on Tuesday, on neutral ground in Saudi Arabia.