New-look Japan off to a flying start

A new-look Japan got off to a winning start under new coach Hajime Moriyasu by defeating Costa Rica 3-0 at the Panasonic Stadium Suita in Osaka last night.

Moriyasu, who took over from Akira Nishino after the World Cup, left out foreign-based stars such as Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida and Yuta Nagatomo.

Instead, he opted for inexperienced players, most of whom play in the J-League.

They took just 16 minutes to score the first goal, when Sanfreece Hiroshima defender Sho Sasaki's header was turned into the Costa Rica goal by Bryan Oviedo after 16 minutes.

3 0
(Sho Sasaki 16, Takumi Minamino 67, Junya Ito 90+3)  

Second-half goals from FC Salzburg forward Takumi Minamino, 23, and substitute forward Junya Ito of Kashiwa Reysol, then sealed the one-sided friendly.

Minamino went close near the end of the first half with a fierce volley that brought a brilliant save from Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira.

But, after a Ritsu Doan lob was cleared off the line by Luis Hernandez, Minamino scored his first Japan goal with a swivel and clinical finish in the 67th minute.

Ito capped an impressive performance by smashing home a left-footer in stoppage time.

Japan's first outing since their surprise run to the last 16 of this summer's World Cup was scheduled to take place against Chile in Sapporo last Friday.

But that game was cancelled after an earthquake struck Hokkaido a day earlier, leaving at least 40 dead.

The Samurai Blue's next major assignment is the Asian Cup Finals in January next year. - AFP