• Kyodo

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Tomoaki Makino netted a goal against Brazil on Friday but Japan succumbed 3-1 to the South American powerhouse in an international friendly, as both teams continued their preparations for next year’s World Cup soccer finals.

Brazil, ranked No. 2 in the world rankings, dominated the first half, with goals from Neymar, Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus in the space of 26 minutes, but Japan, ranked 44th, got one back after the break at Stade Pierre Mauroy in northern France.

“It was a regretful first half. We gave Brazil opportunities and they took advantage of them,” Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic said after the game. “If you just look at the second half, you can say we won. There are many things we can improve.”

Neymar opened the scoring in the 10th minute by converting a penalty that was granted after a video replay, but he missed another penalty five minutes later.

In the 17th minute, Marcelo right-footed a shot into the net after Yosuke Ideguchi failed to clear a corner.

Gabriel Jesus then struck from close range with the assistance of Danilo in the 36th minute to make it 3-0 for Brazil.

Makino found the net in the 63rd minute, heading in Ideguchi’s corner, but that was all Japan could manage.

“I felt there was a lot of difference between them and us,” Japan captain Makoto Hasebe said.

“We let them score early in the first half and I don’t think the opponents were going all out, so in that sense I think we could have done better.”

Hasebe emphasized the importance of not letting a strong team like Brazil score first because that would “destroy our game plan.”

Japan, which now has two draws and 10 losses against Brazil, will meet fifth-ranked Belgium on Tuesday in Bruges.

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