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Late goals condemn Scotland to defeat in friendly against Japan
* Berra (og) 83,
* guardian.co.uk, Saturday 10 October 2009 13.36 BST
Scotland's Lee Miller battles for the ball in Yokohama Scotland's Lee Miller battles for the ball in Yokohama. Photograph: Toru Hanai/Reuters
Two late goals condemned Scotland's makeshift starting line-up to a predictable defeat against Japan in Yokohama this morning.
George Burley's side, who were missing 10 players from the original squad announced at the start of October, took the field with an unusual looking line-up that featured four debutants.
But despite matching Japan for most of a tepid game, a Christophe Berra own goal and a side-foot from Keisuke Honda in the final eight minutes earned Japan victory at Nissan Stadium.
Japan, who were also fielding a makeshift side, dominated the match with their passing and movement, but didn't threaten Scotland keeper Craig Gordon until late in the first-half.
On 35 minutes Kengo Nakamura scampered down the left before firing off a shot that could only hit the side-netting. Two minutes later, Naohira Ishikawa found space to run on to through ball before shooting tamely into Gordon's arms.
Ishikawa continued to be a menace and, with four minutes to go to half-time, he again got behind the visiting defence, this time cutting the ball back to Nakamura, who dithered over his shot to allow Stephen McManus to make an important block.
Burley made two changes at the start of the second half, taking off Ross Wallace and replacing him with Don Cowie while Lee Miller made way for Burnley striker Steven Fletcher.
The changes gave Scotland a lift as the Japanese struggled to control the tempo of the early exchanges in the second period in the manner in which they commanded the first.
On the hour Gordon was finally called into action when he dropped to his left to parry Honda's dipping free-kick and the Sunderland keeper was a relieved man when he saw Atsuto Uchida's follow-up shot flash across the face of his goal to safety.
The substitutions started to come thick and fast, with Japan making three changes in the 65th minute when Uchida was replaced by Yuhei Tokunaga, Yoshito Okubo came on for Hideo Hashimoto and Ishikawa made way for Daisuke Matsui.
Scotland also made another change with Charlie Adam being replaced by Norwich City midfielder Stephen Hughes.
With 17 minutes remaining, Scotland looked set to opening the scoring when, against the run of play, Fletcher was left one-on-one with Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who spread himself well to save with his legs.
At the other end, Nakamura took aim but sent his long-range effort well wide while several minutes later Daiki Iwamasa headed over the bar.
Junichi Inamoto ended his involvement in the game nine minutes from time when he was replaced by Yuichi Komano.
Within a minute of coming on, the Jubilo Iwata defender played a key role in Japan's goal, sending in a low cross that Christophe Berra put into his own net, sticking out a leg in an attempt to stop the ball reaching Takayuki Morimoto.
And with barely seconds remaining, Japan doubled their lead after the ball fell to Honda in the penalty area who side-footed home.
Taken from the Guardian/Observer