Japan scores late to pull away from Costa Rica 3-1
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Yasuhito Endo, Shinji Kagawa and Yoichiro Kakitani scored second-half goals Monday night to help Japan warm up for its World Cup appearance with a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.
Japan failed to take advantage of several opportunities before breaking through against Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas when Endo scored in the 60th minute.
Kagawa snapped a 1-1 tie in the 80th minute, and Kakitani added his goal in injury time before 7,106 at Raymond James Stadium.
Bryan Ruiz scored for Costa Rica in the 31st minute.
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 play World Cup openers on June 14.
Japan, preparing for its fifth straight World Cup, will begin play in Group C against Ivory Coast. Costa Rica opens in Group D against Uruguay.
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.
Navas made diving stops on Hotaru Yamaguchi and Yoshito Okubo to deny Japan from taking an early lead, then stopped Kagawa in the 41st minute to protect the 1-0 lead.
Costa Rica opened the scoring when Ruiz scored off a perfect cross from Junior Diaz.
Navas made two more nice saves against Shinji Okazaki in the first eight minutes of the second half, protecting the lead until Endo took a pass from Japan captain Keisuke Honda in front of the net and slipped a well-placed shot past Navas in the 60th minute.
Meanwhile, 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.