Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Japan 4 Iraq 0: Routine win for dominant hosts

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Jun 2015

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Japan put in a dominant display in Yokohama as an impressive first-half showing set them up for a 4-0 friendly win over Iraq.

It was Japan’s final outing before their opening World Cup qualifier against Singapore next week and coach Vahid Halilhodzic will surely be pleased with the manner of his side’s performance.

The hosts began the game on the front foot and were soon ahead when Keisuke Honda broke clear before delivering an assured finish.

Tomoaki Makino made it 2-0 in the ninth minute, the defender left all alone at the back post to convert from a corner.

Japan dominated for much of the encounter, extending their lead through Shinji Okazaki in the 33rd minute, before substitute Genki Haraguchi produced an excellent run and low finish six minutes from time.

Iraq rarely threatened in an insipid display, as Japan were able to comfortably see out their third win in as many matches since the appointment of Halilhodzic, adding to victories over Tunisia and Uzbekistan.

Japan edged to a nervy 1-0 triumph in the Asian Cup when these two sides met earlier this year, but this was never likely to be as close after the home side made a stunning start and were two goals up inside the first 10 minutes.

Gaku Shibasaki played a ball over the top from deep and Honda sprung the offside trap to run through on goal before dispatching a low left-foot finish into the net via the base of the right-hand upright.

Four minutes later the advantaged was doubled as Iraq’s Samal Saeed unwittingly flicked on Shinji Kagawa’s corner and Makino was on hand to tap home from close range at the far post.

It could have been three in the 15th minute, but goalkeeper Jalal Hassan parried Okazaki’s shot into the ground and onto the crossbar.

Japan were utterly dominant and moved further ahead when Takashi Usami – on his first start – played in Okazaki, whose effort was too strong for both Hassan and the covering Dhurgham Ismael on the line.

The visitors did not muster a shot on goal until the final minute of the half, when Justin Meram’s free-kick from 25 yards curled narrowly wide of the post.

Despite Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima flapping at a couple of balls into the box, the home side were rarely troubled and they struck the woodwork for a second time in the 67th minute when Honda’s drive from range cannoned off the post.

In the closing stages, Haraguchi rounded off the scoring to enable Japan to head into Tuesday’s home clash against Singapore with confidence.

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