Japan beat South Korea in friendly

Sapporo, Japan: Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa returned to international action with two goals to lead Japan to a 3-0 win over South Korea on Wednesday in a warm-up game for World Cup qualifiers next month.

The 22-year-old Kagawa, who broke a metatarsal bone against South Korea at the Asian Cup in January and missed the rest of the season as a result, avenged it by opening the scoring in the 35th minute.

Yasuhito Endo snatched a Korean ball and sent it into the area, where Tadanari Lee back-heeled it on and Kagawa defeated two defenders to score.

Japan got off to a flying start in the second half when CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda struck home from Hiroshi Kiyotake, who was making his debut for the Blue Samurai, in the 53rd minute.

Only one minute later, the Asian Cup holders made it 3-0 with Kiyotake again setting up the goal, this time Kagawa scoring his second from close range.

Japan kept putting pressure on South Korea, with FC Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida`s sending a sizzling shot on to the right post in the 71st minute.

The Koreans had their best chance of a consolation goal in the 75th minute when midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol was set free in the area, but his shot went over the bar.

"I scored clear-cut goals. I`m happy about it," said Kagawa, a Bundesliga star in the first half of last season.

"We couldn`t beat South Korea in the previous two games. I`m happy that we defeated them in 90 minutes today."

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said: "We played very well from the start against South Korea. Of course, I`m satisfied with the result, but I`m much more satisfied with our performance.

"It gave us a lot of confidence for the qualifying round in September. So far as I watched today`s game, I think we can make it," added the Italian.

It was the first time in 37 years that Japan scored three goals against South Korea, and their first home win against them in 13 years.

In the World Cup qualifying round, Japan will play North Korea, Uzbekistan and Syria in Group C, while South Korea will play Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon in Group B.

Bureau Report

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