England 2 Japan 1

England beat Japan 2-1 in Graz in their final friendly match ahead of next month’s World Cup. However, Fabio Capello’s team were disjointed and lacklustre throughout and had two Japanese own goals to thank for the hollow victory.

Darren Bent and Tom Huddlestone started the game but both failed to make an impression in what was a frustrating first half and were replaced at the break. Sunderland striker Bent received little service up front and Huddlestone’s lack of mobility was exposed by Japan on a number of occasions.

Marcus Tulio Tanaka gave Japan the lead on seven minutes when he eluded Glen Johnson before guiding Yasushito Endo’s corner past David James.

Capello made five changes at half time with Shaun Wright Phillips and Joe Cole being given one last chance to stake a claim for a place in the final World Cup squad announced next Tuesday. The Chelsea midfielder underlined his versatility: playing initially behind Wayne Rooney before later switching to the left wing.

When Japanese keeper Kawashima saved Frank Lampard’s penalty on 55 minutes it looked as if England were going to get a result to match the nature of their performance. However, Tulio Tanaka headed into his own net on 72 minutes to level the score.

Just ten minutes later Yuji Nakazawa sliced an Ashley Cole cross beyond Kawashima putting England 2-1 ahead and seal the victory.

Despite the victory Capello would have been looking for a convincing performance this afternoon as much as a win following the disappointing display against Mexico earlier this week.

The Italian has lots of food for thought ahead of England’s first group game against the USA on 12 June.

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