Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa scored the only goal as Japan beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday in their first game after the World Cup.
Kawasaki midfielder Kengo Nakamura sent a pass through to Kagawa, whose shot from just outside the area went in off the post in the 64th minute.
Kagawa, 21, said he was pleased to take revenge over Paraguay, who knocked Japan out of the World Cup in South Africa on penalties at the round of 16 stage in June.
Japan set the early pace with CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda and Yuzo Kurihara threatening the South Americans’ goal.
The visitors took the momentum after 15 minutes but the trio of forwards Nestor Camacho, Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz failed to find the net.
Japan had a good chance in first-half injury time when skipper Yuji Nakazawa’s header from Nakamura’s corner was saved by Justo Villar.
Paraguay midfielder Jonathan Santana’s sizzling shot narrowly went wide at the beginning of the second half and he mishit a similar shot 10 minutes later before the home side scored the opener.
The visitors had a chance to level but defender Paulo Da Silva’s header from a corner was cleared by Nakamura in the 84th minute.
Japan will next take on Guatemala in Osaka on Tuesday, while Paraguay will meet China the same day.
Japan’s new Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni watched the game from the stands as he has yet to obtain a work visa. His first stint will be friendlies in October against Argentina at home and South Korea away.
“I’m very happy with the result, 1-0, although it was a difficult game. Japan’s tactics were very good while Paraguay were physically stronger. But Japan were well organised as a team until the end,” said Zaccheroni.
Meanwhile, Paraguay’s Argentine coach Gerardo Martino said: “Both teams played squarely with rhythm. Comparing with the game in the World Cup, both teams had more space. Both teams had chances to score.”
Japan’s caretaker coach Hiromi Hara said: “We couldn’t name the new coach when we called up this team but we didn’t want to excuse.”
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