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October 12, 2012
• Stade de France, Paris
Referee: W. Collum
• Attendance: 55000
S. Kagawa 88'
90' + 2'
FULL-TIME! France 0-1 Japan! Shock result
Deschamps' men are stunned. Seconds after what was almost a certain goal was denied, Konno tapped in the winner!
Goal Shinji Kagawa
Assist Yuto Nagatomo
KAWASHIMA! Unbelievable save. Truly unbelievable. Facing Giroud, the goalkeeper comes up trumps with a superb stop. But Japan are on the break.....
HAVENAAR! Oh, that was close. Very close. Sakho at the rescue once again, to divert it away for a corner, with Lloris well beaten. The Tottenham keeper punches away the set-piece.
Five minutes left, and it's a frantic finish. Both sides want the result, and with space opening up well on either flank. Japan readying a final substitution.
SAKHO! Great interception, as Japan test the defence once more. Fantastic delivery on the wing by Inui, who picked out Havenaar at the far post, but the PSG man nullified the threat accordingly.
Jallet, who has not exactly come into this match since his introduction, fires a cross towards Giroud, with Yoshida on hand to divert it away.
GONALONS! Wow, flashing past Kawashima's goal. The French are bracing themselves for an onslaught on the Japanese half in these last few moments.
GOAL! NO! It's offside - how unfortunate. Valbuena's delivery into Giroud sees the striker perform an overhead kick, and towards Gomis at the far post, the Lyon striker fires into the goal. It's offside.
Substitution - Clement Chantome is off for Bafetimbi Gomis. The international debutant lasted only half an hour.
Frustration, and noise builds inside the stadium, as the crowd roar on the hosts in search of a late winner. Deschamps will not want a draw ahead of their World Cup qualifier v Spain on Tuesday.
GIROUD! Oh, it's wide, frustratingly, agonisingly, wide. It's Valbuena's pin-point cross behind the defence picks out the Arsenal striker. He gets there quickly ahead of Yoshida, but the connection takes a bobble, and past the post.
Clichy, who has been astute defensively n this game, lss so attackign-wise, sees his cross slam into the post from an acute angle.
And at the other end, the same move is replicated by the Samurai Blue, who themselves are unable to pull it off. A one-two between Kiyotake and Havenaar sees the latter's heavy touch see the ball towards Lloris.
The introduction of Ribery seems to have added another dimension, though the supposed one-two with Giroud fails to be pulled off. Shame, that.
Statistic - les Bleus have not lost an international friendly since Norway in August 2010, not losing at home since befor ethe World Cup.
Further substitutions for France, as Ribery and Gonalons make their bow, replacing Capoue and Menez.
25 minutes left in Saint-Denis, and the frustration is growing. Les Bleus are unable to break down a resolute back four.
Another substitution for Japan - Makoto Hasebe has been replaced by Hajime Hosogai
Substitution for Japan - Kenzo Nakamura has been subbed in favour of Takashi Inui, with the Eintracht Frankfurt man entering the field of play.
The hour-mark has been passed in Saint-Denis, and France look no nearer to a goal. Chantome picks up the ball deep in midfield, spreading the play to Menez, who is fouled.
Valbuena concedes a foul on Sakai. The Marseille winger has usurped Menez's position on the wing, with the latter now operating on the opposite flank, given Benzema's substitution.
Lloris takes a second shot aimed at him quite easily. Meanwhile, France are once more breaking at will. Jallet, holding off Nagatomo, but his cross-field ball intercepted by Sakai.
All derived from a quick free-kick under the nose of William Collum as Japan record just their third shot in this game. At the other end, Valbuena picks out Giroud, who is unable to test Kawashima
Oh, and a chance finally for Japan! All over in a blur, as the match now stretches to an end-to-end feature, with Kiyotake's low shot fired straight at Lloris, with Havenaar unable to rebound
Yoshida continues his dominance as he glances a corner away from Giroud, who continues his profligacy in front of goal this evening.
Clichy, Capoue and now Valbuena the unlikely trio on the lett wing, but the seamless play sees Sakai concede another corner. The corner count is now France 10-0 Japan
Jallet coming on for Debuchy offers a more attack-minded option for Deschamps. Third substitution for France sees Valbuena come on for Benzema.
Jallet's over-hit pass picks out Menez on the other wing. The PSG man attempts to dribble past two defenders, but deflection off Sakai, means the hosts have a corner.
Giroud with a fine pull-back on the edge of the area, to find the on-rushing team-mate, but it's cut out by Endo. Frane starting this second half with some vigour.
Double substitution by France - Christophe Jallet is on for Mathieu Debuchy, whilst Clement Chantome replaces Blaise Matuidi.
The second half has begun in Paris. Can France impact on the dominating nature?
The sides are back for the second half, and we have a substitution on the cards.
Japan, meanwhile, have looked rather depleted, and out of ideas. Stuck in their own half for much of the period, the likes of Kagawa and Kiyotake have been stifled by the wing-backs. Little service to Havenaar, and an over-run midfield have made it a very poor half for Zaccheroni's men.
Some jeering from the 65,000 in attendance in the Stade de France, and they must be as frustrated as I am. It's been a somewhat profligate first half from France, with Benzema, Giroud, Koscielny, Matuidi, Debuchy and Menez all spurning great chances. Deschamps' men should be out of sight.
HALF-TIME: France 0-0 Japan
The shining light of France's first half, has undoubtedly been Jeremy Menez, who has literally, been here there and everywhere for Les Bleus so far. Hasebe sets through Havenaar, who drops to the left, having previously looked isolated. France have the free-kick after an infringement.
Menez is toying with the captain, Hasebe, as he lifts the ball over the midfielder, not once, but twice, before setting Matuidi through on the left. Cut out for a corner, which is wasted.
Kagawa once more wants to be the creative force to drag Japan back into the match, but Sakai's pass is easily cut out. Cross in rom Clichy again is dealt with by Yoshida, and Japan, aside from the two centre-backs, are suffering.
BENZEMA! Fantastic free-kick, and it's well palmed away by Kawashima. Benzema had great range on that, and the goalkeeper was equal to it. Corner to the hosts, and it's Koscielny once more, who heads over.
Free-kick to France, in a very dangerous position. Menez has been a particular threat tonight, as he attempts to fire from range, before the ball is deflected back to him by Maya Yoshida. He is susbequently fouled by Hasebe.
Moment of worry for Japan, as the hosts pile up in numbers in the opposite penalty area. Konno does well to urgently clear the ball under increasing pressure.
Stupid yellow card incurred by Hasebe. France instigating a break, and the captain hacks down using his hands, an unsuspecting Menez. William Collum is fast to issue that.
Yellow Card Makoto Hasebe
Nagatomo found in acres of space on the left wing, and takes it on himself. Reaches the by-line, before being tackled by Sakho, with Koscielny clearing up in midfield.
France suffered the same problem in their last international against Belarus last month. A first half full of chances, missed chances, and howlers. They do need to learn to tuck away their chances. The hosts lead the shot counts 12-2.
GIROUD! Just how many chances do the hosts need? Again, fantastic burst of pace by Menez, who races past Sakai. The movement by Giroud isn't bad, but he cannot connect with the ball and tap it in.
France overrunning the midfield once more, as Hasebe fails to mark his man. Japan all over the place at the minute.
Same old story, though this time, it's Moussa Sissoko who heads wide. Lovely movement to Benzema on the wing, as Sissoko engages in a one-two. Cross in from the former, finds the Toulouse man, but Kawashima is untroubled.
Zaccheroni protesting furiously on the touchline. The Asian champions have not lost a friendly since 2010. They also play Brazil in Wroclaw on Tuesday.
BENZEMA! Oh, inches wide. Superb piece of play from the Real Madrid man who latches onto Debuchy's ball, lifting the ball over a defender, and firing a volley just wide. Superb play. Not rewarded.
Japan doing well to contain the hosts at the moment,despite being on the back foot at the Stade de France. Alberto Zaccheroni's men will have to step up their attackingforays.
Nagatomo, Nakamura and Kagawa producing a lovely triangle just over the half-way line, with their quick passing deceiving Capoue and Sissoko. The move breaks down 20 metres from goal. with the referee giving the hosts a free-kick.
Debuchy! Not getting any close to breaking the deadlock, as another opportunity is spurned. The Lille right-back fires from just inside the penalty area, after Menez's lay-off.
France dominating currently, and the statistics show that currently. They lead 59%-41% on possession, as well as seven shots attempted compared to Jaapan's none.
GIROUD! Close enough for the hosts, as Matuidi again provides the creativity on the wing (somewhat surprisingly). His low delivery picks out the striker, who heads straight into Kawashima's arms.
Les Bleus are instigating further opportunities, as a long ball finds Giroud, who attempts a cheeky chip over Kawashima, but cannot get it over the goalkeeper.
Kagawa surges forward on the wing, in Japan's first proper attacking move of this international friendly. He is scythed down by Olivier Giroud. Talk about the Arsenal-United rivalry!
Benzema takes position on the right, with Debuchy overflowing. It's crossed in low, but Konno gets the block to deflect it away for another corner.
Koscielny again providing some attacking assistance from set-pieces, and Japan cannot even get a look-in currently. The centre-back heads wide once more
Brilliant start from the Frenchmen, who are already dominating. Endo is again providing the tackling in midfield, but cannot stop Matuidi from dropping a low cross in, which the goalkeeper needs to pat away
Menez does well to dribble his way past the Japanese midfielders, and after being hacked down, finds Benzema on the wing. Referee plays advantage, and the Real Madrid striker blazes just over the bar.
KOSCIELNY! Just wide, almost the opening goal in Paris. Menez's corner is met powerfully by the Arsenal centre-back, who rises highest, but cannot get a clean hit on it. Fired inches wide.
Blistering pace by Matuidi on the left wing, as he attempts a low cross in, before being dispossessed by Endo, whose tackle goes behind for an early corner.
An energetic start from the Blue Samurai who are hounding down their opponents when not in possession. Nagatomo's progress on the right is checked.
AWAY WE GO! Japan in white, get us underway, they are attacking from right to left.
Ah, the French anthem, always sung with much gusto. Well, we are seconds away from the start here. Scottish referee William Collum takes the whistle tonight.
The teams are out in Saint-Denis, with a frighteningly large number of Japanese media on the sidelines. National anthems, please.
TEAM NEWS: No surprises in the France line-up, confirming what Didier Deschamps had conceded in Thursday's press conference. As for Japan, Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda are named on the bench, with Kenzo Nakamura and Kiyotake preferred in the midfield. Sakai also comes in, deposing Komano, whilst Atsuto Uchida is replaced by Maya Yoshida. Endo becomes joint record caps holder, equalling Masami Ihara's record set in 1999.
JAPAN (4-2-3-1): Kawashima - Sakai, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo - Hasebe, Endo - Kiyotake, Kagawa, Nakamura - Havenaar
FRANCE (4-3-3) : Lloris - Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Clichy; Capoue, Matuidi, Sissoko; Menez, Benzema, Giroud
CONFIRMED TEAM LINE-UPS:
Anyway, a few statistics ahead of kick-off. The two sides' last meeting was in the 2003 Confederations Cup, with Robert Pires and Sidney Govou scoring in a 2-1 win for the then European champions. Les Bleus are ranked 13th in the world rankings, two places higher than last month, and leapfrogging Brazil. Neither Japan nor France have lost an international friendly since 2010. Japan's last visit to Paris ended in a 5-0 friendly defeat in 2001.
Indeed, the Far East side boast the energetic and well known Shinji Kagawa in their side, as well as Keisuke Honda, Ryo Miyaichi, Takashi Inui, and Yasuhito Endo. Endo will tonight become the joint-highest record cap holder for Japan, equalling the record set in 1999. A very big congratulations to the midfielder.
Meanwhile, Japan take a break from their World Cup qualifiers, and encounter the 1998 and 2002 world champions in an early season jaunt to Europe. Alberto Zaccheroni's side are a formidable opponent, having not lost a game since February, conceding just two goals in the process
However, the midfield does represent a problem. Of all of les Bleus' middle-men called up, they only have 47 caps between them. Santi Cazorla of Spain has 48. Yohan Cabaye, who at this length is the most experienced midfielder France has at the moment, is out with an abdominal complaint, Toulouse duo Moussa Sissoko and Etienne Capoue are expected to start alongside PSG's Blaise Matuidi.
In fact, Deschamps can count his lucky stars, with the news that Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny is fit and raring to go, after a nervous 48 hours in which the centre-back limped out of training after a collision with Franck Ribery. With Abou Diaby missing out after last month's international excursions, I doubt Arsene Wenger would've been too happy. But no harm, no foul.
France take on the reigning Asian champions for the very first time since 2003, and they boast a fantastic record against the Samurai Blue. Five games, five wins. Can't ask for much more. Didier Deschamps' men will be hoping to fine-tune their preparations ahead of the MASSIVE World Cup qualifier against Spain in Madrid on Tuesday.
My name's Mohammed Ali, and I'll be bringing you minute-by-minute action from tonight's fixture. As always, hit me up with all of your predictions, musings, comments and general banter (if that's your thing) - send me your comments via Twitter to @mohammedali_93.
Good evening! And welcome to Goal.com's LIVE text commentary of the international friendly between France and Japan from the Stade de France, just outside of the capital Paris. With most of Europe engaging in World Cup qualifying action, kick back with this intriguing encounter this Friday night.
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