Japan claim victory over ten-man Iceland in the opening match of the Summer Tournament.
The FA Summer Tournament
City of Manchester Stadium
30 May 2004
Watford striker Heidar Helguson netted two goals, but Japan claimed the victory over ten-man Iceland in the opening match of the Summer Tournament.
Sven-Goran Eriksson will have been an interested spectator with England facing both these sides in the coming week as they begin their final preparations for the European Championships.
And Sven will no doubt have been impressed by the attacking skills from both Japan and Iceland in an entertaining clash at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Helguson opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute, although he knew very little about the effort as the ball cannoned into the net.
Thordur Gudjonsson's free-kick from the left caused panic in the Japan defence and Helguson was credited with a goal as the ball bounced in off his chest from the goalkeeper's poor punch.
However, the lead did not last long as Tatsuhiko Kubo claimed an equaliser on 20 minutes with a superb piece of individual brilliance.
The Yokohama striker was the target after great build-up play and his quick footwork deceived two defenders inside the box before producing an exquisite chip to beat Icelandic goalkeeper Arni Arason.
Kubo then put Japan ahead before the break with another wonderful finish - this time lobbing Arason from the edge of the box after racing beyond the defence from a long ball forward.
Although the crowd was perhaps disappointing, those present continued to be treated to a thrilling end-to-end encounter packed with goalmouth action and Helguson made it 2-2 just four minutes into the second-half.
The Japanese defence failed to mark up from a left-sided corner and the Watford hitman took advantage of the space to power his header into the net from just 12 yards.
Iceland pressed for a third as they took control of the game, but Japan reclaimed the advantage and eventual winner thanks to a debatable penalty.
Takayuki Suzuki went down on the edge of the box under pressure from Petur Marteinnson, although television replays suggested there was very little actual contact.
However, ref Mike Riley pointed to the spot and Alessandro Santos took full advantage with a pinpoint penalty into the corner of the net that gave Arason absolutely no chance.
Riley was at the centre of another major incident before the end as he sent Iceland's Brynjar Gunnarsson off for a reckless two-footed challenge on Yasuhito Endo.
England face Japan on Tuesday night before Saturday's clash with Iceland that will serve as an important run-out before Sven's squad jet off to Portugal for Euro 2004.