Jan 27 (Reuters) – Defending champions Japan finished on top of Group C at the Women’s Asian Cup after a 1-1 draw with South Korea in Pune on Thursday, while Vietnam came from behind twice to hold Myanmar to a 2-2 draw.
Japan ended the group stage on seven points, grabbing the top spot ahead of South Korea on goal difference.
Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals.
Forward Roki Ueki gave Japan the dream start with a goal in the first minute — the quickest at the competition — as she charged into the box and found the bottom left corner with a fine finish.
South Korea, putting up an improved performance in the second half, found a late equaliser through substitute Seo Ji-youn in the 85th minute after a scramble in the box.
Japan were left to rue their missed chances, especially in the first half where midfielder Yui Hasegawa twice came close to scoring.
Vietnam finished third in the group on one point, ahead of Myanmar on goal difference, though they will have to wait till the Group B matches conclude later on Thursday to know their knockout stage hopes.
The top two finishers in each of the three groups will advance to the knockout rounds along with the two third-place finishers with the best records.
Win Theingi Tun gave Myanmar the lead in Navi Mumbai with a 28th-minute penalty as she found the bottom left corner before Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung equalised, scoring from a tight angle and long range after a corner-kick before halftime.
Khin Marlar Tun restored Myanmar’s lead in the 49th minute, her right-footed shot from the centre of the box finding the back of the net but a penalty from Huynh Nhu made it 2-2 as the teams shared the spoils.
In Group B, Australia are due to face Thailand later on Thursday in Mumbai while the Philippines will take on Indonesia in Pune.
The competition is doubling up as Asia’s qualifier for next year’s Women’s World Cup, with the continent awarded five guaranteed spots at the finals in Australia and New Zealand.
Australia qualify for the World Cup as co-hosts while two other Asian nations will feature in an intercontinental playoff round.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, search engine optimization editing by Pritha Sarkar)