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2021 Olympics: Kubo dominates in victory over Mexico

Japan are now assured a spot in the knockout rounds.

Japan v Mexico: Men’s Football - Olympics: Day 2 Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Having scored a late winner against South Africa, Kubo put in another quality performance in Japan’s 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday

The Real Madrid youngster once again started for Japan against Mexico and needed no time at all to have an instant impact. Arriving late into the box, Kubo latched on to a low cross form Ritsu Doan to put Japan 1-0 after just five minutes.

The hosts doubled their advantage before the 10 minute mark from the penalty spot after a poor foul in the box by Mexican defender Hugo Martin. Kubo spent much of the game central, creating massive openings between Mexico’s midfield and defense with his pace and close ball control. The 20-year-old also drifted out wide where he had the beating of Mexico’s full back and came close to scoring a fantastic solo goal after beating two players before losing possession to Guillem Ochoa in goals.

Mexico came back into the match from the end of the first half and into the second half, but the match continued to favor Japan in terms in chances as space opened up for them on the counter with Kubo once again at the center of several chances. With just over 20 minutes left on the clock, Jose Vazquez was sent off for taking out Doan just outside the box.

The game was looking all but wrapped up heading into the final quarter, however, with just four minutes left on the clock Mexico finally got on the scoresheet from a corner. Having practically led from kick-off, Japan would have liked to finish the game more confidently, especially against 10 men. In fact, their finish the game almost cost them victory as the goalkeeper was called into a big save in additional time to keep their lead.

The Mexicans are a strong Olympic outfit with one gold medal won in 2012. This is just their fourth defeat in 20 matches at the Olympics since qualifying first in 1992. In this sense, it was a real statement performance for Kubo, especially after such a difficult season out on loan last year. Japan have now secured their qualification out of the group a game early. They play France on Wednesday.