SAPPORO - Japan overpowered fierce
rivals South Korea 3-0 in an emotionally charged friendly on
Wednesday less than a week after former international Naoki
Matsuda died after collapsing in training.
Following a minute's silence in memory of Matsuda before
kick-off in Sapporo, midfielder Shinji Kagawa put the Blue
Samurai in front with a sharp right-foot finish after 34
Keisuke Honda made it 2-0 eight minutes into the second
half, clinically firing a left-foot shot just inside the post
before Kagawa grabbed his second from point-blank range moments
later following a flowing move from Japan.
Japan's players, unbeaten in 11 matches under Italian
Alberto Zaccheroni and wearing black armbands, pointed skywards
in tribute to Matsuda, who died last Thursday aged 34, after
each goal in a rare win over the Koreans.
"We played with passion from the start and never lost our
focus," Zaccheroni told reporters after Japan had beaten South
Korea at home for the first time since 1998.
"To beat a quality side like South Korea with this kind of
performandce gives us a confidence boost ahead of the World Cup
Both sides were using the game as a warm-up for the third
round of Asian 2014 World Cup qualifiers which begin on September 2.
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