Tokyo: Takuma Nishimura came off the bench to secure a 1-1 draw for Japan against Uruguay in a friendly on Friday, equalising seconds after entering the action.
Meeting a Junya Ito cross in the 75th minute, the striker found the net with his left foot, to the delight of 62,000 home fans in the rain-drenched National Stadium.
Uruguay captain Federico Valverde had opened the scoring in the 38th minute. The Real Madrid midfielder hit the post from the edge of the box but was the first to react to the rebound, nodding home to take the lead.
Japan piled on the pressure after that, but Uruguay held fast and continued to threaten on the counter.
Kaoru Mitoma showed smooth dribbling as he repeatedly tried to get through Uruguay’s defence, and the Brighton winger’s 55th minute through ball for VfL Bochum striker Takuma Asano did not get the finish it deserved.
In the 64th minute, Ito of French club Reims appeared to have been tripped by a Uruguay defender, and South Korean referee Ko Hyung-jin pointed to the spot — but the decision was overruled by VAR.
But the hosts did get the equaliser they craved, through Nishimura of Yokohama F. Marinos.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu is looking to rebuild after the Samurai Blue’s brave World Cup campaign, which included stunning victories against Germany and Spain before they lost on penalties to Croatia in the last 16.
“It was unfortunate that we could not win,” Moriyasu said after the game.
“We allowed (Uruguay) the first goal. Our players kept their spirits and fought on.
“There were many issues. Our efforts to quickly switch from defence to attack didn’t quite work. I’d like to correct that, among other areas, in the next game,” Moriyasu said.
Japan will face Colombia on Tuesday for another friendly, in Osaka.