A largely empty Busan Gudeok Stadium was the scene for the opening game of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship in South Korea between China and Japan on Tuesday evening. It was a match that saw the oldest squad against the youngest with youth coming out on top in a 2-1 win. Japan, with a starting lineup averaging under-23, got off to the ideal start as they prepare for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo with victory over longstanding rivals China. However, it was China who threatened earliest, having the first real chance of the game when striker Dong Xuesheng drilled a shot into the post but he was offside during the buildup. Japan then went close twice in quick succession, first when a foray down their left made Mei Fang scramble a sliding clearance that squirmed towards his own goal and then when a dead ball, again from the left wing, ended at the feet of Shinnosuke Hatanaka who hit the post with the goal gaping and China goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo rooted to his line. The goal was worth the wait when it came and it was China captain Mei who was at fault. Ayase Ueda slipped the ball through his legs to teammate Tsukasa Morishima in the left channel who drove into the penalty area and squared for Musashi Suzuki to power home. It had been coming. Although the game is considered a friendly by some because it falls outside of the official international breaks throughout the year, there was nothing particularly friendly about what happened on the pitch. China’s Jiang Zhipeng was the guiltiest offender with a reckless challenge that saw him plant his studs into the head of Japan’s Daiki Hashioka. The Hebei China Fortune player protested his innocence but was lucky to only receive a caution from the referee, while Hajime Moriyasu questioned the fourth official. That incident was far from the only one in a first half that threatened to get out of control, with another seeing China’s Li Ang stood on the head of Japan winger Keita Endo, although it was seemingly accidental. China forward Tan Long then caught Japan skipper Sho Sasaki on halfway to make sure the theme continued into the interval. Former Everton player Li Tie was up on his feet in the technical area for much of the match, as was his counterpart Moriyasu. Perhaps both were trying to keep warm in conditions that saw most players wear gloves and Japan’s keeper Kosuke Nakamura in tights. EAFF E-1 Football Championship: Hong Kong face China, Japan and South Korea Like the first choice China internationals who scored an own goal to end Marcello Lippi’s second stint in charge, interim boss Li found it was the players in red shirts that threatened to be their own worst enemies, at one point almost playing in dangerous Japan winger Endo. China improved in the second half, hitting the woodwork through full back Ming Tian but it was Japan’s young side who continued to attack at pace, keep hold of the ball better and craft the better chances. Victory was put beyond doubt when Genta Miura was left alone to head in from a corner to make it 2-0 after 70 minutes and give the scoreline some of the gloss that their play deserved. China will play against Japan in the opening match of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship tomorrow. Han Qiaosheng, a seasoned football commentator of Chinese central television, said ‘defeat Hongkong and avoid finishing the tournament as the last-place team are the bottom lines’. pic.twitter.com/4WIfeMKKNX — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) December 9, 2019 Endo, who had put in the cross that led to the corner, was later on the wrong end of a yellow card challenge from Ming but he kept attacking down the line even going close to a goal of his own. Tan Long almost claimed a consolation for China before Dong did with a header at the death. Japan keeper Nakamura was disappointed to only push it on to the post and set up a frantic three minutes of additional time. Li’s side meet the hosts on Sunday before meeting Hong Kong next Wednesday in a game that Chinese media see as vital for Li in his audition to be a permanent replacement for Marcello Lippi. Reports suggest that the bottom line for the team in South Korea is to beat Hong Kong and avoid coming bottom of the tournament. China 0-1 Japan - Musashi Suzuki 29' (EAFF E-1 Championship) pic.twitter.com/d5BoLGdhHW — Main Team (@MainTeamSports) December 10, 2019 Meanwhile, Japan can take the experience of winning into their second game when they face Hong Kong on Saturday and begin to dream of winning the EAFF.