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27/05/2009

Japan beat Chile 4-0 in Kirin Cup opener

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[Shinji Okazaki struck twice as Japan downed Chile 4-0 in the opening match of the Kirin Cup friendly tournament on Wednesday night at Nagai  Stadium in Osaka.
In the three-team tournament, Japan will next play Belgium on Sunday at the National Stadium in Tokyo, while Chile will meet Belgium on Friday night at Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba.]
“Our players played as we intended them to, so I’m very happy about that,” said Japan coach Takeshi Okada.
With World Cup qualifiers against Uzbekistan, Qatar and Australia next month, Okada wanted to check his team’s maturity by playing against the South Americans, who are known for their tight pressure and aggressive play.
Despite being unable to use some players due to injury, sickness or club commitments, Okada was able to field Wolfsburg midfielder Makoto Hasebe and VVV Venlo’s Keisuke Honda.
The hosts were put under pressure early in the game by the fast and aggressive Chileans, particularly by left-wing Jean Beausejour.
But Okazaki helped change his side’s fortunes.
In the 20th minute, Okazaki reacted sharply to a long-range effort by Honda and neatly volleyed in the rebound from 10 meters out after Chilean keeper Miguel Pinto failed to hold on to the ball.
Four minutes later, the Shimizu S-Pulse striker latched on to a fine pass from defender Yuji Nakazawa and slotted the ball past Pinto.
The hosts then went on the attack and created a number of chances before finally going 3-0 up when Yuki Abe of Urawa Reds rose high to head in a Yasuhito Endo corner in the 52nd minute.
Okada brought on 18-year-old Naoki Yamada as a replacement for the injured Keiji Tamada, giving the Urawa Reds midfielder his first cap.
Japan came close in the 64th minute when Kengo Nakamura collected a long feed and cut into the box to face Pinto one on one, but the 43,531 home fans were disappointed when Nakamura’s shot hit the outside of the post.
Chile, playing without their Europe-based players, continued to attack hard through Beausejour, who broke through in the 17th minute and passed to Esteban Paredes, whose shot was saved by Japan goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki.
Forward Fabian Orellana shot high from 15 meters out, while substitute forward Edson Puch and defender Ismael Fuentes also came close.
Three minutes into stoppage time, Yamada took a pass from Yano and laid off a well-timed pass to Honda, who stroked a fine first-time shot past Pinto.
Okada compliment players, particularly those who haven’t played so much in recent games: “They did a wonderful job and did what I expected from them. I think our team is molding together as a unit.”
“Owing to Chile’s aggressive performance, we were able to get some precious experience. This game will prove to be an asset for us in the future,” Okada noted.
Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa said of his side:“We had a very hard time. Our zone defense was not good enough and accurate enough, and our forwards couldn’t score on the chances we had.”
Chile are currently third in South America’s World Cup qualifying group and will play Paraguay and Bolivia next month.
“If we had used our chances well, the outcome would have been different. But overall, Japan was the better side today.”

Teams:
Japan—Seigo Narazaki, Yuji Nakazawa, Yuichi Komano, Yasuyuki Konno, Yasuhito Endo (Hideo Hashimoto, 61st), Kengo Nakamura (Shinji Kagawa, 83rd), Yuki Abe, Makoto Hasebe (Satoshi Yamaguchi, 78th), Keisuke Honda, Keiji Tamada (Naoki Yamada, 39th), Shinji Okazaki (Kisho Yano, 71st). Coach, Takeshi Okada
Chile—Miguel Pinto, Gary Medel (Jose Fuenzalida, ht), Gonzalo Jara, Roberto Cereceda (Jose Rojas, 67th), Ismael Fuentes, Marco Estrada, Rodrigo Millar, Jorge Valdivia (Edson Puch, ht), Fabian Orellana, Esteban Paredes, Jean Beausejour. Coach, Marcelo Bielsa
Goals—Shinji Okazaki (20th, 24th), Yuki Abe (52nd) and Keisuke Honda (92nd) for Japan
Cautions—Rodrigo Millar (Chile), Ismael Fuentes (Chile)
Expulsions—none
Attendance: 43,531
Referee—Anders Hermansen (Denmark)