Diego Forlan scored twice in the first half, while Luis Suarez and Alvaro Gonzalez also found the back of the net, as Uruguay defeated Japan in an international friendly at Saitama Stadium on Wednesday, 4-2.
The Uruguayans dominated much of the match, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead before surrendering two second-half goals to Japanese stars Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.
Sprinting on the left wing, Suarez was able to deliver a fine cross to Forlan in the 27th minute, and the former Manchester United star gave a well-timed one-touch shot to slip the ball past Eiji Kawashima. Two minutes later, Forlan was able to curl in a right-footed freekick from just outside the box to give the South American titans a 2-0 lead.
In the 53rd minute, a poor clearance by Maya Yoshida went straight to Suarez, and the forward delivered a hard shot to the far post to extend the Uruguay lead.
It didn’t take long for Japan to get the goal back though, as Honda delivered a chip pass in the 54th minute that found its way to Kagawa, after midfielder Walter Gargano and Shinji Okazaki bumped into each other in the box, followed by Gargano colliding with goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. The Manchester United playmaker easily slotted the ball into the open net.
In the 58th minute, an airborne Gonzalez delivered an athletic header that ended all hopes of a miracle comeback by Japan.
Honda would later score off a perfectly placed freekick that a lunging Muslera failed to get his glove on in the 72nd minute.
It was the first loss for Japan since their disappointing effort at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Japan lost all three matches to international powerhouses Brazil, Italy, and Mexico, but rebounded by winning the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup with a draw over China, and victories over Australia and South Korea.
Uruguay’s victory may serve as a momentum boost heading into World Cup Qualifying. The 2010 World Cup semifinalists are currently in fifth place in CONMEBOL standings. Uruguay travel to Peru on Sept. 9, followed by a home match against Colombia on Sept. 10.
Meanwhile, Suarez remains a top story in England, as the controversial Liverpool forward has been the subject of intense transfer talk. The 26-year-old has been linked with moves to Arsenal, Tottenham, and Real Madrid.