Football: Japan held 1-1 by Venezuela in Sapporo
TOKYO, Aug 15 – Asian champions Japan were held 1-1 by Venezuela today in the first of two warm-up matches before the resumption of the final round of regional World Cup qualifiers.
Yasuhito Endo (picture) put the Blue Samurai in front in the 14th minute at a sellout Sapporo Dome, sweeping home after a dazzling run down the right from Yuichi Komano.
Spain-based striker Miku pegged Japan back, twisting while on the ground to deftly poke the loose ball past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with the outside of his right boot.
Keisuke Honda could have put Japan 2-0 up well before the halftime whistle, only for his left-foot drive to thump off the post.
Manchester United’s pre-season signing Shinji Kagawa flashed a header just past the post on the hour mark. It proved costly as Miku struck moments later.
Kagawa also contrived to miss an open goal in the 75th minute, his shot looping up against the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan meet the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 6 in their final tune-up for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq on Sept. 11.
They overpowered Oman 3-0 and Jordan 6-0 at home before being held 1-1 in Australia in June in their first three games in the final round of Asian 2014 World Cup qualifiers. – Reuters