Ayase Ueda bagged a hat-trick Thursday as Japan began their qualifying campaign for an eighth straight FIFA World Cup with a 5-0 dismantling of Myanmar.
The Feyenoord striker opened the scoring in the 11th minute and brought up his hat-trick five minutes into the second half of the Asian Group B qualifier at Panasonic Stadium, which quickly took on the feel of a glorified training run for the home side.
Having lost 10-0 on their previous visit to Japan during 2022 World Cup qualifying, Myanmar dug in behind the ball and barely ventured inside their attacking third.
Takumi Minamino blazed an early chance wide but quickly made amends by deftly chipping a ball over the top for Ueda to head past Myanmar keeper Kyaw Zin Phyo.
Deployed by manager Hajime Moriyasu as a deep-lying midfielder, Lazio's Daichi Kamada made it 2-0 when he controlled a through ball and steered home a mid-range strike in the 28th minute.
Ueda brought up his brace with a smart finish from an angle after Ritsu Doan played him into the right of the area.
Minamino and Ueda connected once more on Japan's fourth, with the Monaco playmaker receiving Shogo Taniguchi's pass and laying it off for a straightforward tap-in.
Ueda received a big hand from the home crowd when he exited the pitch in the 66th minute.
"My initial feeling was just wanting to win. I think I was also able to showcase some of my strengths," said the 25-year-old striker, playing his first season with the Dutch champions after moving from Belgian side Cercle Brugge.
Doan completed the scoring when he trapped Hidemasa Morita's long ball and blasted past Kyaw in the 86th minute.
The Samurai Blue extended their winning streak to seven straight internationals with the result. They will play their next World Cup qualifier against Syria in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
The top two teams from each of the nine second-stage qualifying groups will advance to the third phase of Asian World Cup qualifying.