Daichi Kamada and Kaoru Mitoma scored the goals as Japan defeated the United States 2-0 in a World Cup warm-up friendly yesterday.
Eintracht Frankfurt forward Kamada punished a US defensive lapse on 24 minutes while Brighton’s Mitoma added a second minutes from-full time in Dusseldorf, Germany. Mitoma’s 88th-minute goal sealed a deserved victory for Japan, who face Germany, Spain and Costa Rica in the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.
But the comprehensive loss dealt a reality check to the United States in what was the team’s penultimate game before they tackle a World Cup group that includes England, Wales and Iran. The United States face Saudi Arabia in a friendly in Murcia in Spain next Tuesday before coach Gregg Berhalter names his final World Cup squad on November 9.
Berhalter now has plenty of food for thought after watching his youthful US line-up get outplayed for long periods. The US finished a chastening loss having made zero shots on goal, and significantly gave away the ball in their own half a whopping 54 times in the first 45 minutes.
US preparations were dealt a blow before kick-off when Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic was ruled out of the starting line-up after suffering a knock in training. Japan dominated from the outset, with the energetic Kamada and Daizen Maeda pressing high up the field and forcing the makeshift US back four into mistakes.
Son’s late free-kick secures South Korea draw against Costa Rica
Son Heung-min scored a late free-kick to secure South Korea’s 2-2 draw against 10-man Costa Rica in their World Cup tune-up match. Costa Rica went down a man in the 81st when goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado was sent off for grabbing the ball outside the box to prevent a South Korean opportunity.
Son converted the ensuing free-kick, salvaging a draw for the home team before about 37,000 fans at Goyang Stadium, northwest of Seoul. Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Hwang Hee-chan put South Korea ahead with a left-footed strike in the 28th, only to see Jewison Bennette score the equaliser in the 41st and then the go-ahead goal in the 65th.
Costa Rica came within 10 minutes of an upset, before Alvarado’s costly mistake – and Son’s ensuing goal – dashed their hopes.
Japan’s Daichi Kamada celebrates after scoring against the US in a friendly match in Dusseldorf, Germany, yesterday. (Reuters)