Live-wire Shinji Kagawa gave Manchester United manager David Moyes a reminder of his value by firing a superb individual goal as Asian champions Japan fought back to beat Ghana 3-1 in a friendly yesterday.
Japan’s playmaker, left out of the English champions’ first three Premier League games this season, cut in from the left to unleash a fierce shot into the bottom corner five minutes into the second half, cancelling out Frank Acheampong’s opener for a weakened Ghana side in Yokohama.
Yasuhito Endo, making his 136th appearance for Japan, put the Blue Samurai in front in the 64th minute with a crisp, low drive before Keisuke Honda headed a third as 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana began to tire in rainy conditions.
Acheampong put the visitors in front against the run of play with a left-foot volley from the edge of the box which deflected off Atsuto Uchida and fizzed past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Ghana, who booked their place in the African qualifying play-offs for next year’s World Cup in Brazil with a 2-1 win over Zambia on Friday before an 18-hour flight to the Far East, rode their luck until Kagawa’s moment of magic.
Honda somehow missed an open goal and the busy Kagawa blasted just over as Japan, producing some neat one-touch soccer, pushed for an equalizer.
Kagawa, twice voted German player of the year with Borussia Dortmund, has played just seven minutes for United this season, coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 Community Shield win against Wigan at Wembley on Aug. 11.
The 24-year-old made the bench for the games against Swansea and Chelsea, but was unused, and was left out of United’s squad for the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool prior to the international break, sparking criticism of Moyes in the British media.
Japan, who have already secured their fifth successive World Cup appearance, were beaten 4-2 by a Luis Suarez-inspired Uruguay last month and failed to set pulses racing in a 3-0 win over Guatemala last week.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s side lost all three of their games at the Confederations Cup in June, but gained a measure of solace by winning the East Asian championship a month later.