HONG KONG'S inadequacies were ruthlessly exposed as Japan scored a thumping 3-0 victory in an impressive start to their Marlboro Dynasty Cup title defence at a dull and overcast Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. The territory had held Japan to a goalless draw in their last full international six years ago but their home-made J.League stars this time handed Hong Kong a lesson they would rather forget. Picking up the pace in the second half, Japan patiently stalked the territory with well-crafted goals, two from Man-of-the-Match Hisashi Kurosaki and one from their defender and captain Tetsuji Hashiratani, whose 78th-minute goal killed off any hopes of a comeback Hong Kong might have entertained. Hong Kong held their own for the first 40 minutes but gradually gave way to Japan's superior fitness. Despite the presence of three foreign players, an option the other three teams had decided against taking up, Hong Kong showed they still had a way to go before matching national sides who have made giant strides over a short period of time. Japan's playing standards have been boosted by the success of the J.League and they showed the improvement they have made since being held to a 0-0 draw in Kobe against Hong Kong in a World Cup qualifying match in 1989. Even without two of their most well-known players, playmaker Rui Ramos and star player Kazuyoshi Miura, who were both unavailable for the tournament, the Japanese showed their class. They started nervously but once they found the net with their opening goal in the 42nd minute courtesy of Kurosaki, their confidence picked up - and so did their game. Hong Kong did have their chances and had a good spell in the opening minutes of the second half, but lacked the finishing touches and the killer instincts which Japan displayed so well. The home team had their best chance in the 17th minute when Dale Tempest created a move down the right flank, eluded his marker before sending in a lovely weighted pass across the goal-mouth. But Eastern teammate Lee Kin-wo was a shade too slow in latching on to the pass. Four minutes later, Tim Bredbury had another golden opportunity to open the territory's account when Lee sent in a cross which was headed on by Tempest but Bredbury failed to control the ball at first touch inside the box, overplaying the ball to the left before the Japanese defence cleared. Japan silenced the partisan crowd when they opened the scoring in the 42nd minute as the territory suffered a momentary lapse in concentration after having defended so well. Masakiyo Maezono created the move when his defence-splitting through ball found Yoshiyuki Hasegawa whose thundering shot was at first blocked by Hong Kong goalkeeper Werner Kooistra. Kurosaki seized the opportunity when he pounced on the rebound to score from close range. Japan went into the break a goal ahead but there was more damage to be done to the Hong Kong defence as the Japanese began to show their goal-scoring prowess. After Hong Kong enjoyed a brief spell in the first 20 minutes of the second half, Japan hit back with goal number two in the 71st minute. Masakiyo Maezono's corner kick found captain Hashiratani who eluded his marker before driving the ball into the net with a powerful header which gave Kooistra no chance. Hong Kong were desperate now and coach Koo Luam Khen made a gamble by introducing attacking midfielder Tam Siu-wai who replaced Leslie Santos, who had a fair game. But moments after spectators applauded the substitution, they were left numb when Japan hit goal number three. Kurosaki showed he can score with both feet when he weaved his way around a Hong Kong defender before creating space to let loose a left-footed low drive which eluded the outstretched hands of Kooistra before flying into the net. Hong Kong coach Koo put on a brave face despite the defeat which will put the pressure on them in their second match against old rivals China tomorrow. 'We tried to defend hard during the first half and we worked hard. But our physical condition was not as good as the Japanese and we conceded another few goals. Overall it was a fair result for us,' said Koo, who coaches local club Instant-Dict. 'Our target is to improve with our next game. Nothing can be guaranteed. We will have to try our best.' The Japanese camp were enthusing over their victory which puts them in a good position to retain the title won in Beijing two years ago. 'From the first half we were a bit nervous because we hadn't played in a long time. But after scoring our first goal, we performed well and I know we can improve on that performance,' said Japan's head coach Shu Kamo. Hong Kong (4-4-2): Werner Kooistra; Lo Kai-wah, Yau Kin-wai, Chan Chi-keung, Lee Wai-man; Leslie Santos (Tam Siu-wai 70), Ross Greer, Shum Kwok-pui, Lee Kin-wo; Dale Tempest, Tim Bredbury (Au Wai-lun 76). Japan (4-4-2): Shigetatsu Matsunaga; Masami Ihara, Tetsuji Hashiratani; Motohiro Yamaguchi, Tadashi Nakamura; Hajime Moriyasu, Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, Masakiyo Maezono, Hiroshige Yanagimoto; Hisashi Kurosaki (Masahiro Fukuda 80), Yoshiyuki Hasegawa. Man-of-the-Match: Hisashi Kurosaki (Japan).