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Monday, 27th February 2012
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Japan gives Iceland the shivers

Japan got the perfect warm-up match under their belts on Friday when they dispatched Iceland in simple fashion.

In front of a packed crowd in Osaka, the Asian Cup winners started brightly and opened the scoring within two minutes.

Former J-League top scorer Ryoichi Maeda got his head on the end of a Tomoaki Makino cross following neat interplay between the defender and Yoshito Okubo, AFP reported.

Iceland never looked like getting back into the game during the first half and they rarely threatened their opponent's goal as Japan dominated, but they looked more positive in the second half as they took the game to the home side.

The crucial second goal was snapped up by Jungo Fujimoto, however, scoring his first ever goal for Japan after substitute Kengo Nakamura has provided him with an assist, before Makino put the tie beyond any doubt in the 79th minute with a great right-footed shot.

An injury time penalty helped Iceland take some of the gloss off the win for Japan, but it was little more than a consolation for Iceland's new Swedish coach Lars Lagerback, whose side were thoroughly outplayed during his debut match.

Speaking after the game, Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said: "It was the first game in 2012 and I wanted to start with a win," the news agency quoted.

"Everybody showed a good performance today, although my players were physically not in their 100 percent.

"I hope that we can keep the momentum," he added.

Japan now face Uzbekistan in a World Cup Qualifying match at the Toyota Stadium, though with both teams already through it will be interesting to see if Zaccheroni experiments with his side or sticks with this tried and tested formula.

Of his first goal in 11 games for the national side, Fujimoto said: "I'm happy For me, this is my start."

Japan is to host the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup this year.

Written by Mark Smith