Soccer: Japan beat Auckland in Asian Cup warm-up

January 5, 2015 5:27 am 

CESSNOCK, Australia, Jan. 4 — Japan continued their preparations for the Asian Cup with a 2-0 win over New Zealand amateurs Auckland City in an exhibition match at their base camp on Sunday.

Japan's most-capped player, Yasuhito Endo, opened the scoring in the 33rd minute at Cessnock Sportsground and Shinji Okazaki steered in a late second to see off Auckland, who finished third at last month's Club World Cup in Morocco.

Japan dominated the opening half played in energy-sapping heat, with Shinji Kagawa, Okazaki and Keisuke Honda all passing up half-chances before 2014 J-League Player of the Year Endo netted with a deflected shot from 20 meters.

Kagawa screwed just wide moments later, and with Japan continuing to force the pace, Honda headed just off target after a cross from Yasuyuki Konno, who came off the bench an hour into the match in a triple substitution along with Yoshinori Muto and Hiroshi Kiyotake.

Auckland posed few problems in the final third, but the part-timers missed a glorious chance to level 14 minutes from time, when substitute Sanni Issa blazed over from a great position.

That miss was to prove costly as Okazaki swept home Konno's cross in the 89th minute.

Japan, seeking a record fifth Asian Cup, kick off the defense of their title in Newcastle against Palestine on Jan. 12. Javier Aguirre's men then face Iraq in Brisbane on Jan. 16 and Jordan in Melbourne four days later in their final Group D match. (PNA/Kyodo)

CTB/RSM

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