YOKOHAMA – Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa sparked a second-half fightback as Japan came from a goal behind to beat Ghana 3-1 in a friendly on Tuesday night.
Frank Acheampong sent the West Africans into halftime with a shock lead at Nissan Stadium after opening the scoring in the 24th minute, but Kagawa equalized five minutes after the break to turn the tide Japan’s way.
Yasuhito Endo put the Asian champions in front with a long-range shot in the 64th minute, before Keisuke Honda headed in another to earn Japan a second consecutive friendly win having beaten Guatemala 3-0 last Friday.
“We were able to turn things around and come back from a goal down, but before that we had about six or sevens chances to score in the first half,” said Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni. “We were able to control the game with our aggressive and dynamic play, and with the high-quality individual players we have we were able to play some good football.”
Honda has now scored in Japan’s last three matches, and the CSKA forward is hungry for more.
“Like in the previous game, a good ball came my way and I was able to put it in the back of the net,” said Honda. “I had chances before that and it was frustrating not to score from them, but it’s good that we managed to win as a team.”
Hiroshi Kiyotake wasted Japan’s best chance to break the deadlock when he cannoned a shot against goalkeeper Razak Braimah after being put through by Kagawa midway through the first half, and the miss would prove costly when Ghana stunned the hosts with the opening goal a minute later.
A mix-up in the Japan defense sent the ball spinning into the penalty area, and Acheampong was on hand to slash a deflected left-foot shot past Eiji Kawashima.
Honda squandered a glorious chance to pull Japan level when he blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy five minutes later, and Albert Adomah almost sent Ghana into halftime with a two-goal lead after narrowly failing to convert from a Majeed Waris pass.
But Kagawa restored parity five minutes after the restart, cutting inside from the left before drilling home a crisp right-foot shot from the edge of the area.
Honda was then denied from a spectacular overhead kick attempt on the hour mark, before Endo put Japan in front in the 64th minute. The Gamba Osaka midfielder let fly with a shot from outside the box, and the ball bounced under the goalkeeper’s hands before creeping over the line.
Honda then gave Japan breathing space with a third goal, rising to head home Endo’s free-kick delivery in the 72nd minute.
“We wanted to turn things around after the first half, and it was good that I could get on the scoresheet,” said Kagawa. “Now the real battle begins, and I’ll be giving it my all when I go back to my club.”