FUKUROI, Shizuoka Pref. — Mitsuo Ogasawara scored a David Beckham-style wonder goal as Japan beat Finland 2-0 in a friendly at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Saturday.
the first goal of the game in the second half action against
Finland at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Saturday. Japan won
The 26-year-old midfielder wowed the crowd on 57 minutes with a looping shot from inside his own half that sailed over stranded ‘keeper Mikko Kaven, emulating the famous goal Beckham scored for Manchester United against Wimbledon in 1996.
“Zico told me before the game that the ‘keeper would come off his line and he told me to go for it and I just did,” Ogasawara said.
“It was a moment of pure brilliance,” said Japan coach Zico, who knows a thing or two about scoring great goals.
“I hope television replays the goal again and again so the world can see we have players as imaginative as that.”
The goal, from 55 meters out, further warmed up the 40,702 freezing fans after Tatsuhiko Kubo opened the scoring on 48 minutes with a left-foot finish from close range after a cross from the excellent Ogasawara.
Kashima Antlers’ Ogasawara’s astonishing strike capped a second-half display full of vim and vigor from Japan, with a lethargic Finland struggling to cope as the Boys in Blue surged forward.
“Japan was a constant threat, a team full of skill,” said Finland coach Roy Hodgson.
“I just hope Zico can agree that we were good enough to give his side sufficient training for the World Cup,” he joked.
The first half was a different story, though, with a Japan performance as flat as Jay Kabira’s pre-match rendition of the National Anthem giving little indication as to what was to come.
Zico made three changes to the side that lost 3-2 to the United States last Saturday, bringing in Seiichiro Maki, Shinji Murai and Keisuke Tsuboi.
Although not as bad as the San Francisco horror show — what could be? — it still wasn’t pretty to watch.
At least there was a more assured display from the Japan backline after the inept showing in the USA, though, with Yuji Nakazawa and captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto soaking up the limited Finnish pressure.
Japan was limited to one half chance for Kubo in the first 45 minutes, but Zico’s halftime teamtalk did wonders as it was a different team that emerged in the second half.
And Kubo got Japan off to a flyer when he scored his first international goal since he registered in the 7-0 victory over India in June 2004.
Kubo went close soon after when Urawa Reds’ Shinji Ono’s surging run ended with a clever pass into the path of the Yokohama F. Marinos player, but Ogasawara settled the game three minutes later with a goal that will be replayed for years to come.
Beckham’s stunning strike launched him to the spotlight and Ogasawara will be hoping his career will get a similar kick-start.
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