Japan help England home
Sunday, 30 May, 2010
Two own goals see England beat Japan 2-1 in Austria.
By Stuart Mawhinney in Graz
England’s final World Cup warm-up game ended in victory despite no England players getting on the scoresheet in Graz.
The Three Lions beat Japan 2-1 after own goals from Marcus Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa saw England come from a goal down to ensure they head to South Africa with yet another win under their belts.
Tanaka had opened the scoring for Japan with a guided drive at the near post from a low angled corner and the confusion in the English defence continued as Shinji Okazaki got the better of John Terry but curled his left-footed shot wide.
England sparked into life through the invention of Wayne Rooney. Tom Huddlestone stole the ball in midfield and released the England number ten, Rooney ran at the Japanese back four before a clever pass split the defence and put Aaron Lennon in on goal.
The Spurs winger, starting on the left flank, fired a left-footed shot which stung the palms of Keiji Kawashima, and breathed life into the travelling band of England supporters.
Frank Lampard tested the flight of the new World Cup match ball with a dipping free-kick from all of 40 yards.
Kawashima spilled the ball and Japan narrowly avoided an equaliser as they cleared for a corner.
Darren Bent went close with a header, and Rooney almost grabbed an unlikely goal as he deflected a Theo Walcott shot a yard past the angle of post and bar.
England made five changes at the interval, changing the shape of the team as Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard replaced Huddlestone and Bent to provide midfield support to Rooney.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jamie Carragher and Joe Hart also came on for Walcott, Johnson and James.
England won a penalty ten minutes into the second period but were unable to convert a golden opportunity to get level with Japan.
Lampard hit the free-kick and a clear raised arm from Honda left Rene Eisner with little choice but to award the penalty.
It was the same Chelsea midfielder who stepped up, but saw his kick saved by Kawashima to deny an instant response from England.
Joe Hart made an excellent save to deny Daiki Iwasama from point blank range. The Japanese substitute broke the offside trap before cutting in on his left foot, but Hart stayed big and palmed the shot away.
Kawashima continued his fine form with a superb save to deny Wayne Rooney, leaping acrobatically to his left to tip the ball over the bar.
Joe Cole created the equaliser, it was his cross that caused Tanaka to head into his own net past the helpless Kawashima.
With little over fifteen minutes to go, Emile Heskey came on to replace Aaron Lennon, altering the shape slightly with the Aston Villa man becoming the focal point of the attack supported by Gerrard, Cole and Rooney.
Gerrard and Rooney combined to sublime effect trading passes on the edge of the area, only for the chance to be snuffed out
England took the lead through a second own goal, Yuji Nakazawa the unfortunate Japanese defender who turned Ashley Cole's cross into the bottom corner.
Heskey went close to scoring a third for England in the dying moments as Gerrard rampaged forward and delivered a superb cross which seemed harder to miss than score.
When the final whistle sounded both teams had been drenched by an Austrian rain storm but luckily the result meant it had not been a complete washout for the travelling England fans.
However, with just two days before he announces his final 23-man squad, Fabio Capello will know there is still room for improvement if England are to lift the World Cup trophy in South Africa.