Japan edges Costa Rica in World Cup warm-up
Tampa: Manchester United striker Shinji Kagawa scored the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute Monday as Japan defeated Costa Rica 3-1 in a World Cup warm-up friendly for both teams.
Kagawa stumbled as the ball came to him in the heart of the penalty area but kept his balance and swept a right-footed shot past Costa Rica goalkeeper Keilor Navas to give Japan a 2-1 edge.
Yoichiro Kakitani, who came off the bench in the 76th minute, added an insurance goal in stoppage time for the Blue Samurai.
Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz, a striker for Dutch side PSV, opened the scoring in the 31st minute, outracing Japan defender Yasuyuki Konno to a centering pass and flicking the ball into the back of the net.
But Yasuhito Endo, a 34-year-old midfielder for Gamba Osaka who entered to start the second half, equalized for Japan in the 60th minute.
Japanese captain Keisuke Honda, a forward for AC Milan, left-footed a centering pass to the heart of the penalty area, where onrushing Endo -- the oldest man on either roster -- blasted a shot into the back of the net.
After a last tuneup Friday in Tampa against Zambia, Japan will fly to Brazil on Saturday and open Group C play June 14 against Ivory Coast with later matches against Greece and Colombia.
Costa Rica, which plays a final warm-up friendly against Ireland on Friday at Philadelphia, was drawn into Group D against England, Uruguay and Italy. The Ticos open World Cup play against Uruguay on June 14.
Japan hoped to gain some insight into Colombia by facing a Costa Rican side guided by Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto, who once coached his homeland`s squad.
The Ticos sought similar information about Italy from playing the Blue Samurai, coached by Italian Alberto Zaccheroni.
And both teams hoped to adapt to the heat and humidity of Brazil by playing in similar conditions before 7,106 at the Florida home stadium of American football`s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The match came five days of the death of Buccaneers and Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer at age 85.
Costa Rica, reeling from the loss of star scorer Alvaro Saborio to a broken right foot and left back Bryan Oviedo to a broken leg, tested new starters.
Joel Campbell, the Olympiacos striker who at 21 was the youngest man on the pitch, got the nod up front while Junior Diaz, a 30-year-old for German side Mainz, received the back line call.Time and again the Asian champions pressed the attack in the first half only to come away empty.
Each team created solid scoring chances early but Ruiz was wide right in the opening seconds, Yoshida Okubo fired high of the goal in the second minute and Yeltsin Tejeda`s blast from atop the penalty area was denied by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in the third.
Yuya Osako nodded a centering pass over the crossbar in the 11th minute and moments later Kagawa evaded defender Michael Umana in the middle but fired a right-footed shot wide.
Honda blasted a shot off the right post in the 24th minute and Okubo forced a diving stop by Navas in the 25th.
Honda was again thwarted in the 27th minute after evading Navas, who had strayed far from the goal to challenge him. Ticos defender Giancarlo Gonzalez beat Honda to the ball and cleared it from danger before the blonde Japanese star could take aim at the open net.
Hotaru Yamaguchi forced another tough save by Navas in the 29th minute and Kagawa yet another in the 41st minute.
Kawashima came to the top edge of the area and leaned over the line to head away a danger ball on a Ruiz breakaway in the 44th minute, the Ticos star eventually sending a header wide to end the threat.