Japan scores late to pull away from Costa Rica 3-1
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Yasuhito Endo, Shinji Kagawa and Yoichiro Kakitani scored second-half goals Monday to help Japan warm up for its World Cup appearance with a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.
After Bryan Ruiz scored for Costa Rica in the 31st minute, Japan failed to take advantage of several opportunities before breaking through when Endo scored in the 60th.
Kagawa put Japan ahead in the 80th minute, and Kakitani added his goal in injury time before a crowd of 7,106 at Raymond James Stadium.
The teams have one more warm-up match in the United States, with Japan facing Zambia in Tampa and Costa Rica meeting Ireland in Philadelphia on Friday.
Both teams open their World Cup campaigns on June 14. Japan, preparing for its fifth straight World Cup, will open against Ivory Coast in Group C, while Costa Rica meets Uruguay in Group D.
Four years ago, Japan beat Cameroon and Denmark before losing on penalties to Paraguay in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
In addition to facing Uruguay, Japan will play Colombia and Greece in the group stage. Italy and England complete the group that includes Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Costa Rica opened the scoring when Ruiz scored off a pinpoint cross from Junior Diaz.
Costa Rica — headed to the World Cup for the fourth time — was unable to put much pressure on Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after Ruiz’s goal.