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Kagawa breaks duck as Japan beat New Zealand 4-2

05 March 2014, 16:50

Tokyo - Manchester United bench-warmer Shinji Kagawa scored his first international goal for six months in a message to his boss David Moyes, as Japan beat New Zealand 4-2 in a friendly Wednesday.

A total of four goals in the first 17 minutes, including a brace from Mainz striker Shinji Okazaki, sealed victory for the Blue Samurai in their last international match before coach Alberto Zaccheroni selects his 23-strong squad in early May for the World Cup in Brazil.

Leicester City striker Chris Wood scored twice to save the All Whites' blushes.

Kagawa has only played in nine of United's 27 Premiership matches this season without scoring or assisting a goal.

He was clipped down in the area after taking a cross from new AC Milan signing Keisuke Honda in the seventh minute.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder jumped for joy after sinking a shot from the penalty spot past keeper Glen Moss for Japan's second goal of the night.

It was Kagawa's first goal for his country since the 3-1 friendly win over Ghana at home in September last year.

"We could do what we wanted to do in the first 30 minutes, leaving New Zealand watching us helplessly," Italian tactician Zaccheroni said.

"But we slowed down and New Zealand came out attacking afterwards. They were a fine team."

Kagawa had set up the first goal three minutes earlier when he floated a long ball towards the back of New Zealand's defence line. Okazaki beat Bill Tuiloma and flicked the ball past Moss in a sliding shot.

In the 11th minute Masato Morishige headed in his first international goal, off a right free kick from Honda.

Honda also set up Okazaki's second goal with a back-heel pass. The Mainz frontman volleyed it in with his left foot in the 17th minute.

Wood pulled one back in the 39th minute for New Zealand, which failed to qualify for Brazil after losing to Mexico in an inter-continental play-off.

Japan, grouped with higher-ranked Colombia, Ivory Coast and Greece in the World Cup, slowed down after leading 4-1 at half-time and substituting four players including Okazaki.

A minute after Kagawa was substituted in the 79th minute, Wood volleyed in his second goal to narrow the gap to 4-2.

In one of Japan's last chances, Honda took a free kick on 88 minutes but his 20-metre shot was punched away by Moss.

Honda has also struggled to impress after moving to Milan in January and has not scored in seven Serie-A matches.

Japan played without two Europe-based first-team regulars -- Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida and Nuremberg midfielder Makoto Hasebe -- due to injuries.

- AFP 

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