• Kyodo


Yuto Nagatomo was in seventh heaven after the Japan defender scored his first goal in Europe during Inter Milan’s 5-2 thrashing of Genoa on Sunday.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, to score at home in front of your own fans,” said Nagatomo, who came off the bench after 78 minutes for Andrea Ranocchia at the San Siro to net the fifth for Leonardo’s side.

“I was so excited my mind went blank. I was dying to score. I think my teammates understand how I play now, and I understand them and the tactics we employ.

“It’s all starting to come together.”

Nagatomo, who only transferred from FC Tokyo to Cesena after the 2010 World Cup before landing at Inter in January, received the ball inside the box 10 meters from goal before turning Genoa midfielder Marco Rossi.

With the quick snap of his left foot, Nagatomo blasted into the roof of the net and received congratulatory hugs from all round, including his manager Leonardo.

Nagatomo said he was thrilled to have come through for Leonardo, the former Kashima Antlers hero who brought him to the European champion upon consulting with Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

Leonardo played for Zaccheroni at Inter’s crosstown rival AC Milan when the Italian managed the club from 1998 to 2001.

“I appreciate what he’s done for me,” Nagatomo said of Leonardo, the two-time World Cup midfielder for Brazil. “I owe so much to him and I wanted to return the favor by playing well.”

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