Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

FIFA World Cup: Croatia, Japan, Greece, Colombia win, Costa Rica held to draw in warm-ups

Keisuke Honda had two goals and Yoshito Okubo scored in the 91st minute, giving Japan a 4-3 victory over Zambia in its final warm-up for the World Cup. (Source: Reuters) Keisuke Honda had two goals and Yoshito Okubo scored in the 91st minute, giving Japan a 4-3 victory over Zambia in its final warm-up for the World Cup. (Source: Reuters)
Associated Press | Posted: June 7, 2014 3:44 pm | Updated: June 7, 2014 4:00 pm

Forward Nikica Jelavic scored in the 58th minute to give Croatia a 1-0 win over Australia in the teams’ final warm-up match before the World Cup.

The Hull striker was given plenty of room after receiving a pass inside the box and rocketed the ball from close range past Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

There were no real scoring opportunities for either side in the first half.

Croatia has several injury concerns with Greece-based defender Danijel Pranjic replaced with an apparent ankle injury. And Eduardo da Silva suffered an injury to his right leg and was substituted off in the 79th minute.

Croatia plays Brazil to open the World Cup on June 12.  Australia plays Chile in its opening Group B match the following day.

Yoshito Okubo rescues Japan against Zambia

Keisuke Honda had two goals and Yoshito Okubo scored in the 91st minute, giving Japan a 4-3 victory over Zambia in its final warm-up for the World Cup on Friday night.

Honda and Shinji Kagawa delivered within a two-minute span of the second half, helping Japan take a lead and seemingly control of the match after falling behind 2-0 in the first 29 minutes.

Zambia’s Lubambo Musonda made it 3-3 in the 89th minute, but Japan wasn’t finished. Toshihiro Aoyama set up the winner with a pass from near midfield, with Okubo using his left foot to control the ball and set off a celebration among Japan fans in the crowd of 7,275 with a shot from in front of the net.

Honda also scored on a penalty kick in the opening half after Zambia, which is not bound for Brazil for soccer’s biggest tournament, build its lead on Christopher Katongo’s header in the ninth minute and Nathan Sinkala’s goal 10 minutes later.

Japan plays Ivory Coast in its World Cup opener on June 14. It also will face Greece and Colombia in the group stage, hoping to build on a promising showing in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Asian champions beat Cameroon and Denmark before losing to Paraguay in the knockout round.

Kagawa, Yasuhito Endo and Yoichiro Kakitani scored second-half goals to help Japan rally past Costa Rica 3-1 in the first of two warm-up matches the team played in Tampa to prepare for the World Cup. Friday’s comeback was sparked by Honda’s penalty kick, which trimmed Zambia’s lead to 2-1 in the 40th minute.

Kagawa made it 2-2 in the 73rd minute, and Honda added his second goal to give Japan, making its fifth straight World Cup appearance, its first lead in the 75th minute.

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni brought the team to Florida for a week of training continued…

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