01/13/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/14/2018 00:00
On the back of their opening day win, Japan started confidently at the Jiangyin Sports Center, while Thailand were cautious and content to rely on counter attacks.
Japan upped their tempo as the match progressed with Kyosuke Tagawa pressing down the middle, alongside Akito Takagi and Yuto Iwasaki on the right and left flanks respectively.
Thailand then began to pile on the pressure, looking to regain possession but Hajime Moriyasu's side kept to their plan of attack, holding the ball and slowly moving into the attacking third but a goal continued to elude them.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with neither side able to impose themselves on proceedings.
But just when it seemed the match was headed for a draw, Itakura struck from close range to take his team through to the knock-out stage while Thailand were eliminated.
Japan will look to seal top spot in the group when they face DPR Korea on Tuesday while Thailand will take on Palestine.
Hajime Moriyasu: Japan head coach
'Having a win and not conceding a goal for these two matches is an achievement. The second half was better than the first, I think we played well and the players proved that. We just started with a fresh team, so we are going forward and taking it match-by-match.'
Zoran Jankovic: Thailand head coach
'I think this game was of high quality. This is something new for Thai football. I am proud of the team. We didn't have many chances, but this is the way we had to play against Japan. This game, for me, was perfect, I'm happy for the boys for giving their best.'