Kubo’s superb Olympics ended with in bittersweet fashion as Japan were dismantled 3-1 by Mexico in Friday’s bronze medal final.
Having lost in heartbreaking fashion to Spain, Japan entered this match in Tokyo seeking their first medal in football since the 1968 Olympics. However, in spite of the rather comfortable display in the group stages, the hosts really struggled to get an offensive grip of the game with Mexico dominating proceedings.
In the 14th minute, Japan conceded a controversial penalty with the Mexican attacker appearing to go down just outside the box. After a VAR review, Sebastián Córdova converted from the spot to put Mexico 1-0 up. Seven minutes later, Mexico doubled their advantage via a superb cross which Johan Vazquez headed home.
Kubo had some nice touches but like his teammates up front, was very isolated and saw very little of the ball in the first half. He did play a role in Japan’s best chance of the first half, tapping through a nice pass under pressure from two Mexican defenders only for Hayashi curled just wide of the far post.
Things largely went from bad to worse for Japan in the second half, Mexico scored from another set piece in the 56th minutes and had chances to add a fourth and a fifth shortly after. Kubo became a little more prevalent in the game, trying to get his side back into the match and was awarded for his effort with an assist to Mitoma.
The late revival continued until the end of the game, but it was too little too late for Japan. After such a promising tournament, it’s a real devastating result for Kubo and his team to finish up with nothing. Nonetheless, the Real Madrid’s youngster’s prestige as a player has certainly taken a boost after the last few weeks and, perhaps, might Carlo Ancelotti some headaches before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month.