Fresh-looking Japan get off to winning start under Hajime Moriyasu

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Hajime Moriyasu’s reign in charge of Japan got off to a flier as they beat Costa Rica 3-0 in a friendly at the Panasonic Stadium Suita on Tuesday.

In his first game at the helm having taken over following the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and having opted against calling up the bulk of Japan’s established foreign-based stars, Moriyasu started with a youthful and inexperienced side boasting seven players still plying their trade in the J1 League.

However, it mattered little as the Samurai Blue dominated proceedings from the opening whistle and duly opened the scoring after 16 minutes.

A corner swung in by Shoya Nakajima found Sho Sasaki and his deft header skimmed off the head of Bryan Oviedo on its way into the back of the net.

The hosts doubled their tally six minutes after the hour mark with a well-worked team move; Wataru Endo running onto Nakajima’s incisive pass and cutting the ball to Takumi Minamino, who kept his composure to create a yard of space before firing past Kevin Briceno.

And, in the third minute of injury-time, the rout was completed when Junya Ito became the third player on the night to net his maiden international goal, as he embarked on an enterprising run down the right and cut inside Luis Jose Hernandez before lashing a shot into the far corner.

JAPAN: Masaaki Higashiguchi, Sei Muroya (Hidemasa Morita 82’), Genta Miura, Tomoaki Makino, Sho Sasaki (Shintaro Kurumaya 78’), Toshihiro Aoyama (Kento Misao 87’), Wataru Endo, Ritsu Doan (Junya Ito 85’), Takumi Minamino, Shoya Nakajima (Jun Amano 75’), Yu Kobayashi (Takuma Asano 68’).

COSTA RICA: Leonel Moreira (Kevin Briceno 46’), Ian Smith, Keyner Brown, Oscar Duarte, Juan Pablo Vargas (Daniel Colindres 67’), Bryan Oviedo (Luis Jose Hernandez 46’), Allan Cruz (Wilmer Azofeifa 46’), Randall Leal (Jimmy Marin 62’), David Guzman, Mayron George (Jonathan Moya 56’), David Ramirez.