Japan gave Thailand a lesson in the art of finishing in Tuesday night's AFC World Cup Group B qualifier in Saitama. Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa, Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki, Gent's Yuya Kubo and Southampton's Maya Yoshida demonstrated ruthlessness in front of goal to render a decent Thai performance fruitless.
The War Elephants now have just one point from seven games, while Russia comes into sight for Japan as they sit at the top of the group.
Unlike some other games in this campaign, Thailand were not undone by their own mistakes or lack of focus, but simply beaten by a team with better players. The level of focus was high, the effort was good, and the players fought until the end. Japan just had more quality when it mattered.
There was also tremendous backing from the Thai fans, with an estimated 2,900 supporters making the trip to Saitama.
Whatever the level of performance, another defeat and one point out of 21 is a damning statistic at any level. Thailand were always underdogs in the group, but most fans would have expected a better return at this stage of the competition. The late penalty miss from Teerasil Dangda added insult to injury for the Thais.
Manager Rating out of 10
6 -- Despite the result, Kiatisuk Senamuang deserves credit for fielding an attacking formation against a team as strong as Japan. He also earns praise for putting Tanaboon Kesarat back into midfield and giving in-form Wattana Playnum his debut in such a big game. Both players delivered decent performances. The scoreline flattered the Japanese as their big players were ruthless where Thailand weren't. It wasn't a game the Thais were ever expected to win and performance was generally good.
Player ratings (1-10: 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kawin Thamsatchanan, 7 -- Made an excellent save from Hotaru Yamaguchi's curling drive in the 19th minute and a fine stop from Keisuke Honda's low shot in the second half. He then had to be smart to keep out Kubo's volley with 10 minutes remaining. The Thai number one couldn't really be faulted for any of the first three goals, but might have done better when Yoshida headed home the fourth.
DF Tristan Do, 8 -- Gave an energetic performance down the right and offered plenty of attacking surges, while remaining focused in defence. Robbed Keisuke Honda of possession late in the game and then deflected the AC Milan man's goal bound header wide. Tristan was probably the Thais' best player on the night.
DF Adison Promrak, 7 -- Adison is fast becoming Thailand's most reliable centre-back. He offered another committed physical performance in the heart of the defence. Some may argue that he should have got closer to Okazaki for the second goal, but he also made some important interceptions and blocks.
DF Koravit Namwiset, 6 -- A solid performance from Koravit, who had missed out last week against Saudi Arabia. The Buriram United defender held his position well and seemed to have a good understanding with Adison.
DF Peerapat Notchiaya, 4 -- Peerapat was a logical replacement for suspended skipper Theerathon Bunmathan but he did not have a great night. Kubo game him a torrid time and the first two goals both came from right-wing crosses as the Muang Thong United man struggled to stem the tide. He was also at fault for the third goal as his mistimed challenge allowed Kubo to escape. On the occasions he did get forward, his final ball was often wasteful.
MF Wattana Playnum, 6 -- Just as he has done in winning a starting berth at MuangThong United this season, Wattana looked unfazed by the occasion on his international debut at the age of 27. As usual, he was solid and unspectacular as he kept the ball moving in midfield.
MF Tanaboon Kesarat 6.5 -- Tanaboon has consistently played at centre-back for the national side over the last couple of years, while performing in a midfield role at club level. He immediately looked more at ease than he has frequently done in some error-strewn performances at the back.
MF Chanathip Songkrasin, 7 -- Chanathip looked in the mood from the first minute when he got on the ball and attacked the Japanese defence. He had one of Thailand's best efforts as his left-footed drive brought out a good save from Eiji Kawashima at the start of the second half. Some of his fancy footwork didn't always produce an end result, but there was enough to suggest to the Consadole Sapporo fans that they are getting a decent player when he joins them on loan in July.
FW Siroch Chatthong, 5.5 -- The Ubon UMT United striker spent a lot of time on the left of a front four in the first half. He battled gamely but his distribution could have been better at times. He flashed a shot on the turn just over the bar when he should probably have hit the target. Was replaced by Nurul Sriyankem in the 72nd minute.
FW Teerasil Dangda, 6 -- A decent first-half performance from the skipper, but faded in the second. His best moment came when he made a smart turn to fire in a low shot in the 35th minute, though the effort lacked enough power to beat Kawashima in the Japan goal. He was also unlucky to see a close-range effort blocked just before half-time. Won but then missed a late penalty.
FW Adisak Kraisorn, 5 -- After a quiet start, he began to make his presence felt towards the end of the first half as he put the Japanese defenders under pressure. He looked isolated in the second half and saw very little of the ball.