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November 16, 2013
• Cristal Arena, Genk
Referee: S. Gumienny
• Attendance: 13616
R. van der Vaart 12'
A. Robben 39'
Y. Osako 44'
K. Honda 60'
The referee calls time in Genk, and it ends Netherlands 2-2 Japan. I've been Livio Caferoglu and it's goodbye from me!
90' + 2'
Cillessen shows great courage to take on Kakitani in his own box, before - in contrasting fashion - smashing the ball away for a throw!
90' + 1'
We're into injury time now, with Japan on the attack.
Sakai has looked every inch confident since coming on in place of Nagatomo. Again, he whips another tantalising cross into the box which Cillessen must awkwardly grab with both hands.
Yellow CardRon Vlaar
Vlaar is a lucky, lucky boy after being shown just a yellow card for his deliberate attempts to haul Okazaki to the ground, despite the forward having a clear sight of goal. Honda's free kick, however, is headed away.
ENDOOO!! Kakitani comes a whisker away from latching onto another through pass, this time Endo being the supplier, as Cillessen is only too pleased to see the ball drift out of play.
Sakai is devastated to learn that a goal kick rather than a corner has been signalled by the linesman after collecting an impressive diagonal ball from Okazaki on the opposing flank.
Yellow CardYasuyuki Konno
The ball continues to be pinged about near the Netherlands box as Japan up the ante and try to push for the winner. However, the Dutch are dangerous on the break, so the visitors cannot rest on their laurels for too long while in possession.
Rafael van der Vaart
Jonathan De Guzmán
TWO GREAT CHANCES!!!! Depay skins his man and unleashes a stinging low drive which Nishikawa spills, before Janmaat is exposed again as Kagawa's through ball is met by Kakitani, yet the youngster - with the goal at his mercy - can only place the finish wide!
The tempo has slowed right down in these past few minutes, with both teams happy to engage in a midfield battle to kill the remaining time on the clock.
Depay almost makes an instant impact as he plays in Strootman, who in turn lays off Van der Vaart, yet the experienced forward uncharacteristically skies his shot.
A long ball is aimed for Okazaki, who is positioned deep down the right, but he can only force through a goal kick after stretching to receive the pass.
Siem de Jong
De Jong tries to read Van der Vaart's through ball after looking to play off the shoulder, but he is not quick enough off the mark to take control of the move and Nishikawa gathers easily.
Robben comes close to nodding Netherlands back into the lead after coming a fraction away from meeting Lens' driven cross, before tugging the back of Nagatomo for a Japan free kick.
All credit must go to Zaccheroni for bringing on the two game-changers in Endo and Kagawa. I was surprised by the decision to bring off the players in question after they performed so well in the first half, even though they had nothing to show for themselves. What do I know, eh?
OH KAGAWAAAAA!!! The attacker comes mightily close to handing Japan the advantage for the first time this afternoon as Cillessen tips his curling attempt wide of the left-hand post!
GOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!! What a masterful team goal! Endo pushes forward and lays off Kagawa, who in turn feeds Honda who hits the ball low and hard into the bottom right of Cillessen's net! Simply beautiful one-touch football from Japan who are well back in contention now and could even win this.
Robben is furious as he feels Nagatomo was too aggressive in his efforts to outmuscle him while in possession of the ball. Free kick to Netherlands.
PANIC STATIONS FOR ORANJE!!! De Vrij plays Vlaar into all kinds of trouble with a needless backpass, which Cillessen must quickly smother, before Endo is found in space near the Dutch box and rifles a beautiful curling strike just past the post!
Japan have shown iron-will to bounce back from being two goals down in the first half and eventually wrestle back control of the encounter. Let's see how long they can sustain this improvement before Netherlands wake up.
Honda is growing into stature here as Endo rolls the ball into the path of the AC Milan target, and he effortlessly curls a strike towards goal without any backlift which whistles just over the bar.
KAGAWAAAAA!!! Honda displays fantastic vision to scoop up the ball over Vlaar and find the Manchester United ace in the box, yet the substitute can't poke the finish beyond Cillessen!
Van der Vaart shakes off the advances of Yamaguchi and plays in Siem de Jong, who is in bundles of space as he gallops forward, yet his cut-back into Lens' path is not of the desired calibre and Konno clears the danger.
Nigel De Jong
Hasebe and Kiyotake, candidates for the best Japanese players today, are also replaced by Kagawa and Endo - the latter of whom makes his 139th international appearance by coming on.
The match restarts, with Netherlands introducing Jetro Willems at the expense of Nigel de Jong.
The ref blows his whistle to signal the interval, with the scores reading Netherlands 2-1 Japan at the half-way mark!
CURSE OF THE COMMENTATOR!!! Wonderful play from Hasebe sees the Nurnberg ace turn on a six-pence before threading through Osako to coolly pull one back for the Japanese with half-time looming large!
Netherlands are in no mood of letting up as they look to shut up shop at the back, as Japan get the benefit of the referee's boot, but Honda struggles to pick out a team-mate after Kiyotake busts a gut to lay off the CSKA star after being instantly man-marked.
Japan pursue an instant reply through Okazaki, who gets the beating of Blind and sends a cross into the middle which Osako hits hopelessly into the orbit.
ROBBEN YOU BEAUTY!!!! A quite sensational strike from the Dutch captain puts the Oranje well on their way, as Van der Vaart spreads the ball to the winger, who cuts in from the right in his trademark fashion, and bends an unstoppable drive into the top-left corner of Nishikawa's goal!
Robben is involved in some fisticuffs with Kiyotake to concede a free kick to Japan, and the attacking midfielder attempts a flick-on, which almost plays in Honda.
HOW CLOSE CAN YOU BE!!! Strootman steers the ball into the path of Robben, who is situated on the right after Lens shakes off a Japanese jersey and lays the midfielder's pass off to the Bayern star, and Nishikawa is forced to make a tremendous stop to parry the winger's curling effort away!
Kiyotake is in another dangerous position, as he tucks into the space between the left-back and the centre-back and crosses deep into the box which Vlaar does well to patrol and ensure Osako cannot reach the ball.
Blind, from deep, sees Lens make a dash down the left flank and attempts to feed the winger, yet the linesman rules the pass offside.
Strootman has been arguably the most influential player on the pitch so far. His inventive passing and intelligent movement is on the agenda again as he tries to pick out another forward pass for Lens, but Konno is quick to intervene.
Yoshida looks to atone for his fatal error in the build-up to the opening goal, as a ball is launched into the box, which the Southampton man is alert to, and he shepherds the ball to his goalkeeper.
Kiyotake roams in-field from the left wing and lays the ball off to Honda, who is in space directly central to the Netherlands goal, but the playmaker's forward pass for Okazaki is too strong and it rolls out for a goal kick.
Strootman plays another through pass, but this time it finds one of his Dutch colleagues as Lens is away in the clear and prepares to pull the trigger, but in the nick of time, Uchida catches up and expertly stretches out a leg to deny the Dynamo Kiev forward.
Strootman tries to play in a team-mate with a speculative through ball, but none of his fellow Oranje are on the Roma midfielder's wavelength.
ROBBEN!!!! The Bayern ace is found in the middle of the box by Lens, who pushes out to the left, and he heads just over the bar from a few yards out!
Janmaat is afforded some luck down the right for the first time this afternoon as he ploughs forward and whips a looping cross into the box which bounces and momentarily causes Nishikawa some discomfort!
Japan will be kicking themselves at conceding so slackly and so early on, after dominating the opening spells in Genk. They will have to show impressive character to come back from this, although their showing in the Confederations Cup proves anything is possible.
GoalRafael van der Vaart
AGAINST THE RUN OF PLAY BUT THEY ALL COUNT!!! It's a horrible piece of Japanese defending which gifts Netherlands the lead. A long ball, aimed for Van der Vaart, is nodded down by Yoshida, yet his header back to Uchida is interrupted by the right-back slipping, allowing the Hamburg ace to nip in and lob Nishikawa!
BRILLIANT CHALLENGE! The Japanese make a vital interception to make up for a misplaced pass, which Lens latches onto, but as he readies himself for a shot at goal, Konno triumphantly slides in to cleanly win the ball back for his team.
Uchida reads Lens like a book as the Schalke full-back merely forces the attacker to go outside rather than cut through the middle, and the Japan defence mop up the failed foray swiftly.
THE ASIANS COME CLOSE AGAIN! It's Okazaki who comes a whisker away this time as Alberto Zaccheroni's troops find yet more joy on the left-hand side, with Hasebe's cross finding the striker at the far post, yet he cannot steer his attempt on target!
OOOOH!!! A superb piece of interchange play sees Kiyotake overlap Nagatomo, and the winger puts the ball on a platter in the area for Yamaguchi, who can only fire into the crowd!
Japan have started brightly, as Nagatomo dashes past Janmaat down the left flank and sends a cross into the box which Vlaar must get his body in front of!
The visitors are already awarded a free kick, which Honda duly takes, but the CSKA man is ordered to re-take the set-piece as the Dutch wall is too close for the referee's liking. Nothing comes of it a second time, however.
Japan get the action under way in their home strip, going from right-to-left.
Kick-off is imminent as both sides take to the pitch!
Louis van Gaal's men dropped just two points in their 10 qualifiers, scoring 34 goals in the process - a goal total second only to Germany in European qualification. Japan, meanwhile, booked their place at the World Cup in June, finishing top of Group B in Asian qualifying, four points clear of second-placed Australia. With that in mind, all roads surely lead to a fascinating pre-tournament test for either outfit then!
And last but certainly not least, the Samurai Blue: Nishikawa; Nagatomo, Yoshida, Konno, Uchida; Hasebe, Yamaguchi; Kiyotake, Honda, Okazaki; Osako.
Let's look at the two starting line-ups, beginning with the Oranje: Cillessen; Blind, De Vrij, Vlaar, Janmaat; N. De Jong; Van der Vaart, Strootman; S. De Jong, Robben; Lens.
Hello and welcome to LIVE commentary of the international friendly between Netherlands and Japan! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I'll be guiding you through all the action as it happens at the Cristal Arena in Genk, Belgium.
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