• Kyodo


Shunsuke Nakamura came up against fellow Japan midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata for the first time in Serie A, but Parma got the upper hand in a comfortable 2-0 victory over struggling Reggina in the Italian first division Sunday.

News photoShunsuke Nakamura (left) of Reggina competes for the ball against Parma’s Hidetoshi Nakata.

More than 1,000 Japanese fans made the trip to Parma to watch a match billed as a battle between the two Japan internationals, but it was two second-half strikes by Brazilian forward Adriano which settled the match.

Nakamura was substituted after 66 minutes as Reggina brought on an extra forward to try and find a way back into the match.

After the match, a disappointed Nakamura was at pains to explain the loss meant more than the chance of playing against Nakata.

“It wasn’t just about me and Hide today,” Nakamura said. “Once they got the first goal, we couldn’t really compete against them.”

Japan manager Zico was also in the stands and paid tribute to both players.

“Nakata is someone who adds something extra to any team, while Nakamura is starting to show he can produce that little bit of magic when it is needed,” Zico said.

“Italy is a very tough league to play in and their experiences can only help the Japanese national team.”

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