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Honda header caps Japan defeat of Ghana


The Blue Samurai of Japan beat the Black Stars of Ghana 3-1 in a friendly game played at the Yokohama Nissan Stadium on Tuesday, to win the Kirin Cup.


The game which was very energetic from start saw the Black Stars matching the pace of the slightly taller Japanese but the hosts bossed majority of the play.


The Japanese's three-pronged attack of Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endō caused Ghana a lot of trouble.


Ghana's defence and midfield were exploited in the early minutes. But Razak Braimah made four good saves in the first 28 minutes.


Against the run of play, it was Ghana who went ahead in the 24th minute. After Japan failed to clear, Frank Acheampong picked the ball on the left of attack and blasted a left-footer which deflected off the back of a defender and into the net.


Japan came close to equalising a couple of times but it was Ghana who went into the half in the lead.


Coach Kwesi Appiah made a halftime change, bringing on Jonathan Mensah for Rashid Sumaila.


It didn't take long for the Japanese to take hold of the game again and they finally got their goal. In the 50th minute, the danger man Endō fed the ball to Kagawa who fired a shot that beat Braimah at the near post.


From there it was total dominance by the Blue Samurai. They troubled the Ghana defence many times, with Honda and Endō coming close to getting a goal a couple of times.


In the 64th minute, Endō finally came good. He played a one-two pass with Honda, who released him with a backheel, and Endō's placed shot squirmed into the net. Braimah got a had to the ball, but it was not enough to stop it.


In the 72nd minute, it was the turn of Honda to get on the sheet. Endō, from a freekick, sent in a cross that Honda connected with a header to beat Braimah, for Japan's third. Replays showed that captian John Boye failed to mark Honda effectively.


A few more dangerous plays from Japan and scrambles in the Ghana box kept Kwesi Appiah's men on edge until the final whistle.


The last time Ghana met with Japan was on Wednesday, Spetember 9, 2009. It ended 4-3 in favour of Japan and it was Honda who got the winning goal, just like today.


Ghana and Japan have now played three times, with Japan winning two times.


Ghana starting XI (subs): Razak Braimah, Samuel Inkoom (Daniel Opare), Richard Kissi Boateng, Rashid Sumaila (Jonathan Mensah), John Boye (C), Harrison Afful (Rabiu Mohammed), Albert Adomah (Solomon Asante), Raman Yussif Chibsah, Abdul Majeed Waris, Christian Atsu (Mahatma Otoo), Frank Acheampong


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