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INNSBRUCK: Japan’s Shinji Okazaki gestures during their international friendly against Paraguay at the Tivoli-Neu Stadium on Tuesday.—Reuters
INNSBRUCK: Japan’s Shinji Okazaki gestures during their international friendly against Paraguay at the Tivoli-Neu Stadium on Tuesday.—Reuters

INNSBRUCK: Japan ended their World Cup warm-up on a high, coming from behind to defeat Paraguay 4-2 in Austria on Tuesday in a game that burst into life in the dying minutes.

Akira Nishino’s team managed just three shots at the Tivoli-Neu Stadium in Innsbruck, yet finished with four goals, courtesy of a brace from Takashi Inui, an own goal by Paraguay’s Federico Santander and a stoppage-time effort from Shinji Kagawa.

Eibar’s Inui had set up the victory with two second-half goals, both assisted by Borussia Dortmund’s Kag­a­wa, after Oscar Romero had given the South Americans a 32nd-minute lead.

Richard Ortiz pulled one back for Paraguay on 90 minutes before Kagawa crowned an influential perform­ance with Japan’s fourth a minute later.

The result ensured a bright finish to Japan’s preparation for the World Cup in Russia, following 2-0 defeats to both Switzerland and Ghana.

They open their campaign in Group ‘H’ on June 19 against another South Amer­ican side, Colombia, in Sar­ansk before taking on Sen­egal and Poland.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2018

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