Scotland were second best for the whole game and Japan deservedly took all three points.

Before the game, all is well
Scotland started their World Cup campaign in the worst possible way, by losing three goals and all three points. The single consolation goal from Ross Campbell was not enough to wipe out the three goals from Morishima, Umesaki and Aoyama. Japan convincingly beat an out of sorts Scotland 3-1 at a packed Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. 11,400 packed to capacity filled the renovated stadium most taking time off from celebrating Canada Day at the Inner Harbour. Japan dominated the first half and Scotland were under pressure from the whistle. Chances feel regularly to the Japanese who had 11 first half efforts, three of them on target. The first goal when it came, however deserved, was a little freakish and close to the Scots reaching half time intact. Scotland improved a little in the second half although things would have got worse were it not for Andrew McNeil in goal. By the time his unfortunate error allowed Aoyama to score Japan's third, the game was well out of Scotland's reach A late rally cheered Scotland and they did pull one back but it was the Japanese who were deservedly applauded off the field by supporters of all nationalities, just as the Nigerian band was starting up for the second game.



They get everywhere


Japan made the best of the opening exchanges and looked the more likely to score. My notes show very little attacking activity from Scotland as Japan drove forward. The first goal nearly came when Uchida started and finished off a neat close passing move that McNeil managed to managed to get both hands to and push away to safety. From a rare Scottish foray which broke down, Umesaki made the most of a retreating Scotland defence and let fly from about 20 yards which just cleared the bar. The Japanese were quick and accurate with the movement and passing but the telling ball in the danger area was the only thing missing from the game. As the game moved on, Scotland finally managed to settle themselves and make the Japanese retreat on a few occasions. On the 25 minute mark, Fletcher got on the end of a flowing passing move on the inside of the retreating defender to put the ball just past Hayashi and agonisingly inches past his left hand post. on the 40 minute mark Dorrans drove into the heart of the Japanese defence and, with a slight movement as if to shoot, took out two defenders out of the game and then hit the ball with power only to see his shot saved. Heading towards half time and Morishima took his chance to have a volley from a deep cross from the left. Instead of going across McNeil he went for the spectacular and more difficult inside post and hit the side netting. He made up for that when he took advantage of two Scottish mistakes to score the opening goal in the 43rd minute. Cuthbert made the first mistake by taking a fresh air at an innocuous ball forward. Morishima raced McNeil for the ball, a race with the Scotland keeper won. However, he slammed the ball against the striker and the ball headed towards the open goal for Morishima to slot home. Scotland did not have time to recover from this blow before the referee blew for half time.

Campbell gets one back
The second half saw Scotland coach Archie Gemmill put on Campbell for Alan Lowing to link up with Hibs team-mate Steven Fletcher in attack. This change did not make much difference to how Japan toyed with Scotland. They carried on where they left off in the first half and Scotland toiled away to get some sort of procession. The speed of movement of player and ball from the Japanese seemed to flummox Scotland for some reason. Surely, this should not have been a surprise. The Scottish frustration started to show and Jamie Adams and Callum Elliot went into the referee's book in quick succession just after 6 minutes of the second half. Tsukasa Umesaki effectively killed off the game in the 57 minute when he beat Adams to the ball just outside the centre circle and headed for goal. Space opened up for him and he did not need a second invitation to take a shot which was low, powerful and went past McNeil's right hand and into the net. Scotland had to press forward now and this created space at the back for the Japanese to exploit. Not the best tactic in the world against a team who were willing to run for each other all day. While Japan were fast and incisive, Scotland in contrast were laboured and slow in their build up. Morishima nearly picked up his second and Japan's third as he drove in one-on-one with McNeil. However, McNeil delayed his move and Morishima looked for a move and finally the Hibs keeper saved with his feet. However, all that was for nothing as McNeil gave the Japanese a third when he failed to hold onto a 30 yard shot from Aoyama in the 79 minute. Just four minutes later Scotland finally got one back as Campbell following up Snodgrass's attack, managed to watch his shot trundle into the net. This gave Scotland hope and the next minute saw Fletcher take the ball on the left hand corner of the box and fire in a shot which once again, unfortunately, slid past the post. After that scare, Japan then just played out time to make sure they made it to the top of Group F.

Japan: Hayashi, Uchida, Fukumoto, Makino, Umesaki, Tanaka (Fujita 77m), Kawahara (Aoki 68m), Kashiwigi (Morishige 92m), Morishima, Aoyama
Sub
s not used: , Havenaar, Yanagawa, Ota, Takeda, Hirashige, Kagawa, Kirihata

Goals: Morishima, Umesaki, Aoyama

Scotland: McNeil, Cave-Brown, Wallace, Adams, Cuthbert, Reynolds, Elliot, Fletcher, Dorrans (Gilmour 76m), Conroy (Snodgrass 61m), Lowing (Campbell 45m)
Subs not used
: McGlinchey, Fox, O'Leary, Considine, Kenneth, Lynch, Kelly

Goal: Campbell
Booked
: Adams, Elliot, Cave-Brown

Crowd: 11,500

Referee: German Arredonodo (Mexico)
Editor
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba.net)

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