Japan narrowly beat New Zealand in friendly

Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, center, celebrates with teammates after victory over New Zealand during their friendly football match in Toyota city, Aichi prefecture on October 6, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Japan narrowly beat New Zealand in friendly

TOKYO: Shu Kurata smashed a late winner on Friday to give Japan a narrow 2-1 victory over New Zealand in their first international football friendly since they qualified for the World Cup.
Following a scoreless first half, Cologne forward Yuya Osako netted a 50-minute penalty for Japan after a handball at Toyota Stadium.
New Zealand striker Chris Wood scored an equalizer nine minutes later, triggering an all-out offensive by Japan.
On 87 minutes, Kurata scored his first goal for the Blue Samurai with a diving header, whipping up home fans in the heavy rain.
“I pushed the ball with all my heart,” Kurata said.
“I’m glad to contribute to the team with the winning goal,” he said.
It was Japan’s first friendly since they beat Australia 2-0 in August to qualify for their sixth successive World Cup.
“We won but it was not easy,” Japan’s head coach Vahid Halilhodzic said after the game.
“New Zealand displayed a brilliant defense,” said the Franco-Bosnian.
“We scored the first goal but could not control the game well and then they scored a goal,” he said.
But he praised his players for their collective offense toward the end of the game, which led to Kurata’s winner.
The defeat shadowed New Zealand, who will move to an intercontinental playoff next month.
Japan will take on Haiti in another friendly on Tuesday in Kanagawa, southwest of Tokyo.


Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

Updated 24 June 2018
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Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

  • Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece
  • Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F

SOCHI: Toni Kroos has revived Germany's World Cup hopes with a superb late strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win for the defending champions over Sweden.
Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece, with Germany down to 10 men. He tapped the ball to Marco Reus from the free kick and then launched his strike into the top corner.
Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F after opening with a loss to Mexico. It is now second in the group, three points behind Mexico and level with Sweden. Mexico had a 2-1 victory over winless South Korea 2-1 earlier Saturday.
Sweden opened the scoring with Ola Toivonen in the first half after a counterattack that started with a passing mistake by Kroos' near midfield.
Reus equalized three minutes into the second half with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Timo Werner.
Germany played the final minutes with 10 men as Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card for a hard challenge on Marcus Berg.
Halftime substitute Mario Gomez had one of the best chances for Germany with a close-range header in the 88th that was saved by goalkeeper Robin Olsen.