Japan v Latvia Friendly Result (Kirin Challenge Cup 2013)

The Samurai Blue eased to victory against very poor opposition in the shape of Latvia, but it wasn’t until the 41st minute that they took the lead. Shinji Okazaki stretched to divert Atsuto Uchida’s wayward shot into the net via the upright to give Japan a 1-0 advantage at half-time.

Two further goals were added in the space of teo minutes in the second period, both created by Shinji Kagawa. First on 59 minutes Keisuke Honda bent the ball beyond the reach of Vanins in the Latvia goal, before Okazaki doubled his tally and scored his 31st overall in 59 appearances for the national team, rounding Vanins and rolling the ball into the empty net. Okazaki now sits just seven goals behind Hiromi Hara in the all-time goal scoring table for his country, and continuing at only a marginally improved goals per game ratio could see him reach Hara in third position before the close of the year.

With such bare resistance offered by their opponents it took little effort on the Samurai Blues’ part to dismantle the visitors, but they can be satisfied with a reasonable performance and in having achieved the expected and required comfortable win.

Japan Japan
Okazaki 41′, 61′
Honda 60′
3 Latvia 5050 Latvia 0

Japan: Kawashima; Uchida (Gotoku Sakai, 62′), Konno (Inoha, 66′), Yoshida, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Hosogai (Endo, 45′); Kiyotake (Maeda, 45′), Honda (Inui, 62′), Kagawa; Okazaki (Otsu, 81′)
Substitutes: Hayashi, Gonda; Inoha, Gotoku Sakai, Mizumoto, Hiroki Sakai; Endo, Takahashi; Inui, Otsu; Maeda

Latvia: Vanins; Bulvītis, Ivanovs, Gorkšs, Rugins; Laizāns (Žigajevs, 65′), Cauna (Sinelnikovs, 88′), Višnakovs (Zjuzins, 65′), Fertovs; Kamešs (Maksimenko, 72′), Gauračs (Verpakovskis, 71′)
Substitutes: Doroševs, Mālins, Maksimenko, Klava, Kurakins, Smirnovs, Žigajevs, Zjuzins, Sinelnikovs, Verpakovskis


1968 Olympic Games: Japan 2 Mexico 0


Two goals prior to half-time from legendary forward Kunishige Kamamoto in the 1968 Olympic football tournament win the bronze medal for Japan against Mexico, the first and only time the two teams have faced each other at the Games. El Tricolor were defeated on home soil at the Azteca Stadium in a match attended by 105,000 spectators. The Samurai Blue contest the London 2012 semi-final with Mexico on 7 August at Wembley.

London 2012: Nadeshiko and Samurai Blue – full on-demand video

If you visit this site from the UK (or using a UK IP Address, for example via a VPN), the BBC has on-demand coverage of the full 90 minutes for the Samurai Blue and Nadeshiko matches played in Group D and Group F respectively to date. This post will be updated as and when the on-demand video is updated on the BBC website.

Click the links under the Match heading for the relevant video:

Stage Competition Date Kick-Off Match Venue
Group F Women 25 July 17:00 Japan 2 Canada 1 City of Coventry Stadium
Group F Women 28 July 12:00 Japan 0 Sweden 0 City of Coventry Stadium
Group F Women 31 July 14:30 Japan 0 South Africa 0 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
QF Women 3 August 17:00 Japan 2 Brazil 0 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
SF Women 6 August 17:00 Japan 2 France 1 Wembley Stadium, London
G.Medal Women 9 August 19:45 Japan 1 USA 2 Wembley Stadium, London
Group D Men 26 July 14:45 Japan 1 Spain 0 Hampden Park, Glasgow
Group D Men 29 July 17:00 Japan 1 Morocco 0 St James’ Park, Newcastle
Group D Men 1 August 17:00 Japan 0 Honduras 0 City of Coventry Stadium
QF Men 4 August 12:00 Japan 3 Egypt 0 Old Trafford, Manchester
SF Men 7 August 17:00 Japan 1 Mexico 3 Wembley Stadium, London
B.Medal Men 10 August 19:45 Japan 0 South Korea 2 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

日本 (Japan) 6 ヨルダン (Jordan) 0

(Highlights of all the goals from Japan’s 6-0 demolition of Jordan, a result which puts the Samurai Blue five points clear of the next-placed side in Group B)

A superb display from Japan resulted in a resounding 6-0 victory over Jordan in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Saitama Stadium, Keisuke Honda once more dominating the headlines with a hat-trick but Yasuhito Endo providing an exhibition of the array of passing at his disposal. The Samurai Blue head Group B at the end of Matchday Two following their first competitive win against their guests in normal time, and they could not have hoped for a better outcome as results elsewhere gave them a five point cushion in advance of their fixture against Australia on Tuesday.

In a match that Japan dominated for all but the opening five minutes of the second period, and in which Eiji Kawashima was not called upon until the 41st minute, even in the face of the final scoreline it would be no exaggeration to suggest that goalkeeper and captain Amer Shafia was one of the more able players in an otherwise desperately poor Jordan team. Shafia stood strong in the face of an opening barrage from the home side, a fine save preventing Shinji Okazaki from opening the scoring with a bicycle kick after five minutes following a sublime lofted pass from Makoto Hasebe, then punching clear a deliberate attempt at scoring direct from a corner by Endo, before diving at full-stretch to push a fierce Honda drive behind for a corner.

With minimal support offered to Shafia by his Al-Nashima teammates, however, and in particular the bewildering movement and passing fluency of Japan’s advanced players a level beyond Jordan’s defensive capabilities, resistance could only be sustained until the 18th minute. Honda swung over a corner from the right towards the back post, and rising above Saeed Murjan, Ryoichi Maeda encountered some good fortune as the ball deflected off his shoulder and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Three minutes later Honda scored his first of the day, Endo delivering a stunning first-time angled ball into his path forty yards from goal having spotted the CSKA Moscow midfielder’s run, and he skipped across Anas Bani Yaseen before slotting calmly to the right of Shafia for Japan’s second.

Moments of ill-discipline were the least Jordan could afford in trying to cope with such an onslaught, but two bookings in as many minutes saw their numbers reduced to ten with only 27 minutes played. Abdallah Deeb had no cause for complaint, shown his first yellow card for pulling back the effervescent Maeda after nimble footwork had taken him past the midfielder, and then a raised arm across the face of Hasebe as they contested an aerial ball giving South Korean referee Kim Dong-Jin no choice other than to book Deeb for a second time and confirm the dismissal.

Jordan were in disarray, and it came as litttle surprise when goals three and four arrived before half-time. Endo, who combined superbly with Okazaki on a number of occasions, spotted the VfB Stuttgart player alone in space in the right channel, Basem Fat’hi having drifted in-field. Although the defender was able to recover to block Okazaki’s left-footed shot, the ball spun across the six yard box, and Honda was on hand to steer home having continued his run beyond Baha’ Abdul-Rahman at the back post.

Ten minutes before half-time Shinji Kagawa had his reward for his superlative efforts in closing down the Jordanian midfield and the pressing game for which he is renowned. Defending close to his own goalline, Kagawa challenged Ahmed Hayel to win a throw-in for his side. Advaning quickly downfield, Honda carved a ball out to the right-hand side which Hasebe did well to pull back across the face of goal. Although Maeda’s header was half-cleared to the edge of the penalty area via a Shafiah fist, Atsuto Uchida unselfishly rolled the ball across the 18 yard line for the Manchester United-bound forward to fire through the legs of the hapless Khalil Bani Attiah and into the bottom left corner.

As Dong-Jin signalled for the interval, the question was how many more would be added to the scoreline, the visitors not having recorded a single shot in the first 45 minutes, but Japan first had to withstand a spirited start to the second-half as Saeed Murjan, Hayel and Odai Al-Saify all gave some pause for concern and the home side played well within themselves. Nonetheless, any hopes Jordan may have had of making the scoreline more respectable were soon snuffed out, as Maeda’s skill drew a foul from Bani Attiah in the penalty area, and Honda stepped up to seal his hat-trick from the spot, Shafia diving the wrong way.

Substituted to rapturous applause shortly after, Honda took his place on the bench as Kengo Nakamura entered the fray, and Yasuyuki Konno was then withdrawn for Masahiko Inoha with a view to what should be Japan’s most difficult AFC Fourth Round qualification game next week. The Samurai Blue came close to adding to their total on several occasions, Endo once more trying to score directly from a corner, while first Yuzo Kurihara from a header and then Inoha with a low shot saw their efforts cleared off the goalline by Abdul-Rahman. Kagawa caught the outside of the right upright with an attempt from distance late on, and with time running out Kurihara finally put away the sixth, Yuto Nagatomo’s cross to the back post inviting the header from the substitute defender.

Any anxiety for Japan as they head to Brisbane will merely come in the form of centre-back Maya Yoshida, outstanding in partnership with Yasuyuki Konno and whose involvement in the match came to an early end having jarred his leg in a challenge with Abdul-Rahman. Early prognosis suggests damage to knee ligaments, and with Alberto Zaccheroni having confirmed he will play no part in the match against the Socceroos, he has flown back to Japan for treatment. Otherwise the Samurai Blue look in excellent shape and they should be confident of taking a point or more on 12 June, and then await the visit of Iraq in September perhaps already on the brink of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Japan 6 Jordan 0
Match Statistics Match Statistics
Shots 18 Shots 6
Corners 15 Corners 0
Possession 63% Possession 37%
Goalscorers Min Goalscorers Min
Ryoichi Maeda 18
Keisuke Honda 21, 30, 53 (pen.)
Shinji Kagawa 35
Yuzo Kurihara 89
Substitutes Min Substitutes Min
Maya Yoshida
Yuzo Kurihara
44 Basem Fat’hi
Mohammed Al-Dmeiri
Keisuke Honda
Kengo Nakamura
57 Tha’er Bawab
Anas Hijah
Yasuyuki Konno
Masahiko Inoha
72 Ahmed Hayel
Shadi Abu Hash’Hash
Cautions Min Cautions Min
Makoto Hasebe 72 Abdallah Deeb 25, 27
Khalil Bani Attiah 52
Amer Shafia 64
Sent Off Min Sent Off Min
Abdallah Deeb 27

Japan: 4-2-3-1 (Blue); Jordan: 4-4-1-1 (Grey)

日本 3 (Japan) オマーン (Oman) 0

(Video of Japan’s goals in their 3-0 victory at home to Oman, the first of three 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification games to be played in the space of ten days)

Shinji Kagawa may have recently eclipsed Keisuke Honda as the most high profile and coveted of Japan’s overseas contingent, but it was the latter’s display in a very comfortable 3-0 victory against Oman which provided a reminder of the numerous gifts that led to SS Lazio engaging in interminable transfer negotiations last year. While Japan will face sterner tests of their credentials in attempting to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup from the AFC’s Group B, most notably the 12 June fixture in Brisbane against closest rivals Australia, coach Alberto Zaccheroni will be satisfied with three points achieved in resounding fashion, and by measured performances from Yasuhito Endo and Makoto Hasebe at the heart of field, flair and precision in equal parts from Shinji Kagawa and an eye-catching late cameo from FC Nuremberg-bound Hiroshi Kiyotake. Most of all, Honda’s ball retention under pressure, diligent work-rate, awareness of space and intelligent distribution implied a man who has finally returned to full form and fitness following a spate of injuries.

Playing in front of an expectant, capacity crowd at the Saitama Stadium, Japan were authoritative from the opening seconds to the closing blast of referee Ravshan Irmatov’s whistle, the final match statistics providing affirmation of a tie which became less of a contest and more of an opportunity for Japan to hone their ability in front of goal for their forthcoming fixtures as the game went on. Seventeen shots to Oman’s one can also be seen in the context of Wigan Athletic’s Ali Al-Habsi being one of the few Omani Daggers’ players to emerge with any credit, the national team’s captain preventing Shinji Okazaki from heading in with a fine stop towards the end of the first-half, and making an outstanding double save late on from first Honda and then Kiyotake to keep the scoreline moderately respectable.

The first goal was created through passing at its simplest but sublime in its execution. Controlling a clearance out of the Oman defence close to half-way, centre-back Yasuyuki Konno played the ball forward to Kagawa, whose adroit touch to Jubilo Iwata’s Ryoichi Maeda was immediately returned to the Borussia Dortmund player. Sending Yuto Nagatomo past Mohammed Al-Musalami, the Internazionale defender’s cross was perfectly judged for Keisuke Honda’s late run into the penalty area, and his technique was flawless as he volleyed past Al-Habsi. Honda’s celebration, in which he gestured to his squad number both on the front and reverse of his jersey, was perhaps a pointed reminder to supporters that he isn’t ready or willing to cede his position as Japan’s most celebrated player of recent years quite yet.

While there was little threat provided by Paul Le Guen’s charges, Japan failed to add to their lead before the interval, underlining that while Japan are yet to be defeated by the Arab state, historically matches between the two nations have been tight affairs, the Samurai Blue having only previously scored more than a single goal in their contests on just one occasion. It would come as some relief therefore that a second came just six minutes after the restart, Maeda furthering their advantage, but the home side were the recipients of questionable decision-making from Irmatov and his assistant. Building from defence, Honda was twice involved in the build-up before laying-off to Kagawa on the left touchline midway inside Oman territory. Cutting inside, the prospective Manchester United player spotted Maeda’s run, deftly bending the ball inside Jaber Al-Owaisi. Maeda miscontrolled, fortunate in seeing Al-Habsi remain on his line and turning in from close range, but having clearly strayed a yard offside and the decision not given it was merely one of several errors of judgement made by the officials during the course of the game.

Shortly after Japan were three ahead, Endo finding Kagawa in the centre of Oman’s half, who pushed the ball to Maeda on the right of The Red penalty area. The 30-year old’s shot was half-blocked, and fell instead for Shinji Okazaki six yards from goal. His initial effort was into the midriff of Al-Habsi, but the rebound came back to the forward who scored at the second attempt. Having put the game beyond Oman’s reach, Zaccheroni could then afford to provide two of his most recent squad additions with some time on the pitch, Hiroki Sakai making his second appearance for his country at a senior level, and Kiyotake providing glimpses of why yet another Bundesliga club wishes to pursue young Japanese talent.

If any negatives could be drawn from an otherwise very positive evening for the Nippon Daihyo coaching staff, it was in Okazaki’s dissipation. While the VfB Stuttgart forward netted the game’s second and his 28th for the Samurai Blue, becoming Japan’s fourth highest goalscorer in history, twice in the first period he let opportunities pass by, the clearest of which resulted from another superb Nagatomo cross after being found by Honda, and unmarked on the penalty spot he headed wide of the right upright. Japan will meet better teams in this group and they will not be the beneficiaries of such largesse in future matches, but with the 26-year old possessing a goalscoring rate of almost precisely one goal every two games, any suggestion that he should be benched is rendered largely untenable.

The Saitama Stadium now awaits the visit of Jordan on 8 June, who could only draw 1-1 with Iraq at the Amman International Stadium, and the Samurai Blue should be confident of leaving for Australia and their tantalising fixture with the Socceroos holding six points from two matches, before World Cup qualification ends until the autumn.

Japan Oman
Goalscorers Min Goalscorers Min
Keisuke Honda 12
Ryoichi Maeda 51
Shinji Okazaki 54
Substitutes Min Substitutes Min
Atsuto Uchida
Hiroki Sakai
57 Abdul Al-Mukhaini
Ali Al-Jabri
Shinji Okazaki
Hiroshi Kiyotake
78 Imad Al-Hosni
Abdullaziz Al-Muqbari
Yasuhito Endo
Hajime Hosogai
86 Hussain Al-Hadri
Ismail Al-Ajmi
Cautions Min Cautions Min
Fawzi Bashir 9 Atsuto Uchida 30

Japan: 4-2-3-1 (Blue); Oman: 3-4-3 (Red)

Under-23 Japan Team Crashes out of Toulon Tournament

(Highlights from Japan’s final game in Group A, a 3-2 loss to Egypt leading to their exit from the Toulon Tournament)

The Japan Under-23 national team’s preparations for London 2012 were underminded on Sunday as a 3-2 defeat against Egypt in the Toulon Tournament ended their participation at the group stage. Japan, who finished bottom of Group A with just three points and having conceded seven goals, had given themselves hope of further progress with a 3-2 success against the Netherlands after their abject display in the opening match with Turkey, but those hopes were dashed both by a pair of baffling decisions from referee Mounir Mabrouk and some hapless defending, a failing which has plagued the side throughout this competition.

While the surprise early exit may have prevented manager Takashi Sekizuka from deploying a few players on the periphery of selection in order to make their case for inclusion in the London 2012 squad, the coaching staff can take a number of positives from their brief spell in France, most particularly in the dazzling displays from Takashi Usami, whose performances have underlined why Bayern Munich were so keen to invest in the then nineteen year old; Manabu Saito, whose movement, acceleration and directness in attack has caused real difficulties for opposition defences, and the incisive passing and awareness of Yoshiaki Takagi.

Furthermore, Japan’s cause was not helped by several potential first-choice players being absent at Toulon, Shuichi Gonda, Hiroki Sakai, Hiroshi Kiyotake and Genki Haraguchi all called up into the senior squad in recent history, but conceding goals at a rate of more than two per match should certainly be a worry for Sekizuka, a troubling lack of positional awareness, a telling lack of height in dealing with crosses and frequently exposed full-backs among a number of concerns in defence.

The opportunity to select a pair of senior defenders to complement his back line, together with an additional outfield player from the three over-age options permissible, may thus prove welcome to Sekizuka, whose midfield contains what is best described as an over-abundance of attacking talent, with one of the most interesting decisions still to be made in whether he will seek out Shinji Kagawa to join the final squad. Kagawa qualifies under the age limits specified by FIFA as Under-23, but after a long and arduous Bundesliga season which only ended on 12 May, whether it would be either in the player’s or the national team’s interest to pursue another competition within such a short space of time is open to question.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Netherlands 3 2 0 1 6 3 +3 6
2 Turkey 3 1 1 1 3 2 +1 4
3 Egypt 3 1 1 1 4 6 -2 4
4 Japan 3 1 0 2 5 7 -2 3

Toulon Tournament 2012: Liveblog – 日本 (Japan) U-23 v. オランダ U-23 (Netherlands)

(Extended highlights of Japan’s excellent victory versus the Netherlands in the 2012 Toulon Tournament, which leaves Group A finely poised. Japan must beat Egypt in their final group game to be assured of a quarter-final place, who they meet on 27 May)

0 Min: The Under-23 Japan national team face a very difficult test as they come face-to-face with the Netherlands, who coasted to a 3-0 victory in their first Group A game versus Egypt. The Samurai Blue must take at least a point today to have any hope of progressing to the knock-out stage of the competition, and to ensure that their preparation for the London 2012 games remains on track. I’ll be bringing you coverage of all eighty minutes, and team news will appear here very shortly.

0 Min: Japan – Ando; Higa, Suzuki, Oiwa, Yamamura; Muramatsu, Takagi, Usami, Ogihara; Saito, Ibusuki

0 Min: Netherlands – Bizot, Ligeon, Reinstra, Nelom,l Wijaldum, Lukoki, Propper, Jansen, Berghuis, Ten Voorder, Gouriye

1 Min: Referee M. Tsynkevich blows his whistle and gets this match underway.

2 Mins: GOAL! The worst possible start for Japan. Jody Lukoki, who excelled on the wing against Egypt, speeds down the right, sends over a cross, and a delightful Ninos Gouriye hooked volley, over his shoulder into the top left corner, opens the scoring for the Netherlands.

3 Mins: Japan U-23 0 Netherlands U-23 1

5 Mins: GOAL! Japan are immediately level. Manabu Saito runs close to forty yards with the ball from the left touchline, past both Ben Reinstra and Kevin Jansen, and although he scuffs his shot somewhat, Bizot’s attempted save diving to his right is poor and Japan equalise.

5 Mins: Japan U-23 1 Netherlands U-23 1

8 Mins: Usami releases Takagi down the right, and he is able to run forty yards into the penalty area. He strikes well, but it’s a good save from Bizot this time as the shot went across the angle. Ibusuki just couldn’t stretch far enough to divert the ball in.

13 Mins: The Netherlands are looking to use the pace of Kukoki frequently. One-on-one with Higa, the left-back is struggling. Higa can’t prevent the winger from crossing, and it’s diverted away for a throw by Daisuke Suzuki.

16 Mins: Much more positive from Japan in these opening fifteen minutes. They were lacking in movement and purpose against Turkey and winning few tackles, but Takagi, Saito, Ibusuki and Oiwa are making strides into opposition territory. The introduction of Usami into the starting line-up has been particularly crucial.

21 Mins: Oiwa hangs over a cross which is too strong for Ibusuki, who sprints to the left touchline to collect the ball. It’s returned to midfield, and Usami’s chipped throughball is a little heavy for Daisuke Suzuki, up from central defence.

23 Mins: A pass finds Ibusuki with a clear run on goal, but the centre forward’s pace has never been his strongest point. He beats Reinstra who tries to cover, but Nelom, potentially putting an arm across his face, tackles fairly in the official’s view and brings the ball clear on the edge of the penalty area.

27 Mins: It’s quite an impressive performance so far from the Japanese, who have shut down the Dutch in midfield, and have resorted to a few hopeful long passes rather than the intricate passing and movement they displayed against Egypt.

30 Mins: Japan have a free-kick ten yards beyond the halfway line, and it’s played by Ogihara to Takagi in the right channel. It’s then returned back to the central midfielder, but his cross is poor and the Netherlands are able to break.

31 Mins: Lukoki has swapped to the left-wing to put some pressure on Oiwa, who has been playing in a very advanced position for the Samurai Blue. He has a chance to score, but his attempted lob, after Kevin Jansen’s shot had been blocked well initially, is too casual and well clear of Ando’s bar.

33 Mins: Almost a lead for Japan. A disguised pass from Saito allows Usami to burst into penalty area, and his bending shot is smartly stopped by Bizot. Usami is then unable to take advantage of the rebound.

36 Mins: A corner for the Netherlands. Ten Voorde squares a cross along the six yard area, and Suzuki nods behind with Lukoki loitering with intent.

37 Mins: Japan struggled under crosses against Egypt, but this set piece is poor, low and cleared away from the near post.

40 Mins: The last action of the first period finds Japan breaking down the left, but as Yusuke Higa collects the ball on the overlap from Saito, his pull back is behind Ibusuki and a promising attack and the first period come to an end.

HT: Japan U-23 1 Netherlands U-23 1

HT: Takashi Sekizuka will be much happier with the performance of his side today after the drab display on Wednesday. Usami’s movement has caused problems for Jansen and the defence, and Saito has been a frequent threat, particularly in the left channel.

HT: The players are back on the pitch, and Ricky Van Haaren has replaced Steven Berghuis, while Maiken Kieftenbeld takes the places of Kevin Jansen.

41 Mins: And the match is back underway.

42 Mins: Lukoki is back on the right-hand side of the field as this half commences, and he immediately makes gains as he passes Higa with relative ease, but his delivery, inconsistent at times, fails to find a teammate and is dealt with by the Japanese defence.

42 Mins: A corner for Japan, to be taken from the right by Takahiro Ogihara. It’s taken short again, and badly executed.

43 Mins: GOAL! Japan are in front, and it’s Hiroshi Ibusuki who scores the goal. Usami’s run beats the offside trap from Takagi’s lovely through ball, and he unselfishly plays the ball across the penalty area for Ibusuki to slide home.

43 Mins:Japan U-23 2 Netherlands U-23 1

46 Mins: Manabu Saito wastes a superb chance to give his team a two-goal cushion. He cleverly drops his shoulder and waits for Bizot to commit himself, but then slices his shot wide of the right upright just inside the penalty area.

47 Mins: GOAL! The Netherlands are level, and it’s a run down the right from Lukoki which does the damage. Once more he passes Higa with ease, and his cross to the back post is finished with aplomb on the volley by Rick Ten Voorde. Kazuki Oiwa should have been better positioned, however, drawn to the ball and leaving the substitute unattended six yards from goal.

47 Mins: Japan U-23 2 Netherlands U-23 2

50 Mins: A superb pass from Ibusuki, dropping deep into midfield, releases Saito, and he atempts to chip Bizot from outside the penalty area. There’s just not enough lift on his pass. Yoshiaki Takagi might have been a better option, as he was clear on the left.

54 Mins: A good save from Ando after the Netherlands work the ball around the penalty area, and then a superb block from Yamamura stops Lukoki getting his shot away, resulting in a corner. Van Haaren takes from the right, and an unmarked Reinstra heads wide with the goal at his mercy. The Netherlands should be in front.

56 Mins: Lukoki drives down the right hand-side once more, and Higa is unable to cope with the wingr’s pace and skill. He cuts inside with a cute flick off his heel, but bends his left-footed shot from sixteen yards over Ando’s goal.

59 Mins: Higa lucky not to have given away a free-kick as Ruben Ligeon joins the attack, trying to block the ball out for a goal-kick but dragging the defender down after a sustained priod of possession from the Netherlands had seen the ball swept effortlessly around the pitch.

60 Mins: Japan finding it very difficult to regain possession at the moment.

62 Mins: A first change for Japan, Ibusuki comes off for Yuki Otsu, while Ninos Gouriye is substituted for Nacer Barazite.

64 Mins: CROSSBAR A stunning strike from Van Haaren at a set piece from approximately 35 yards keeps rising, but crashes back off the underside of the crossbar. It hits Ando on his shoulders as it rebounds away from goal, but it’s safely away.

68 Mins: After a certain foul from Yoshiaki Takagi is ignored by the assistant referee, Higa puts an arm across Lukoki as he was due to run clear. In the opinion of the referee it’s fair.

70 Mins: Higa is a little fortunate as he tries to play the ball off Baracite for a goal-kick, as the Netherlands player simply regains possession. He feeds Lukoki, but his left-footed cross is out of play.

73 Mins: GOAL! Japan are in the lead as a result of some poor Dutch defending. Saito’s cross should be dealt with by Legion, but his mis-kicks and gives the ball straight to Usami. His pass finds an entirely unmarked Ogihara, who thrashes the ball into the top-right corner.

73 Mins: Japan U-23 3 Netherlands U-23 2

77 Mins: Kota Mizunuma comes on for Manabu Saito, who has been excellent for the Samurai Blue today.

78 Mins: Lukoki beats Ogihara with a delightful flick on the right before a good sliding challenge from Usami brings his run to an end.

80 Mins: Takashi Usami, possibly the best Japanese player on the field today, makes his way off the field for Keigo Higashi.

80 Mins: Three additional minutes to be played, with the ball safely in Shunsuke Ando’s hands.

80 Mins+1: A superb pass out of defence by Suzuki is collected by Kota Mizunuma on the right wing, and he makes a strong run before swinging the ball crossfield to Takagi. He controls, stepping across a couple of defenders before taking a shot on the 18-yard line, which is deflected away for a corner.

80 Mins+1: And that’s the last action Takagi will take, as he’s replaces by Yuya Osaka.

80 Mins+2: The corner is wasted by the Japanese, as they give away a quick free-kick.

80 Mins+2: Lukoki wins perhaps the final corner of the game for the Netherlands.

80 Mins+3: It’s swung in by Van Haaren, and the Dutch keeper is up for the set piece. It’s out behind for another corner, and this time Ando punches away from under his crossbar.

80 Mins+4: There will be no more for the Japan goalkeeper to do, as the official signals for the end of the match.

FT: Japan U-23 3 Netherlands U-23 2

FT: A superb result for Japan which ensures their presence in the competition continues to the final group game, where they will face an Egypt side who were easily beaten by the Netherlands in their opening match.

FT: Thank you for joining me, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s coverage.