Uruguay 2 Japan 2: Miyoshi brace stuns Suarez's side

By Sacha Pisani 21 June 2019 371
Uruguay 2 Japan 2: Miyoshi brace stuns Suarez's side

Koji Miyoshi scored twice as guests Japan earned a thrilling 2-2 draw against Uruguay at the Copa America amid more VAR controversy in Porto Alegre.

Miyoshi twice gave Japan the lead in the Group C clash but the Copa invitees were pegged back on both occasions by a Luis Suarez penalty and Jose Gimenez on Thursday.

After Miyoshi's opener, Uruguay were awarded a dubious 32nd-minute spot-kick following a VAR review, which penalised Naomichi Ueda for an innocuous attempt to block the ball under minimal contact on Edinson Cavani.

Miyoshi restored Japan's advantage 14 minutes into the second half but Uruguay – 4-0 winners on matchday one – secured a share of the spoils thanks to Gimenez's 66th-minute header.

It was an entertaining contest from the outset after Suarez's audacious half-way line attempt almost embarrassed Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan were impressive and put Uruguay on the back foot as former Leicester City forward Shinji Okazaki side-footed just wide, while Suarez went close again for the South American side inside 15 minutes.

Japan were routed 4-0 by two-time reigning champions Chile in their opener but they broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when Miyoshi found a way through and scored from a tight angle.

However, Uruguay moved back on level terms seven minutes later after Cavani went down under minimal contact and a VAR check allowed Suarez to step up and convert the spot-kick.

Baffled by the decision, Japan nearly went behind nine minutes prior to the break but Cavani's thunderous effort from outside the area rattled the crossbar.

Both teams had chances to move ahead in an end-to-end second half, but it was Japan who sensationally retook the lead thanks to Miyoshi approaching the hour mark.

After Cavani wasted a golden opportunity at the other end, Fernando Muslera spilt a cross straight at the feet of Miyoshi and the Japan forward fired home from close range.

Japan's lead, however, only lasted seven minutes as defender Gimenez glanced a header past Kawashima from a corner and Uruguay almost completed the comeback inside the final 10 minutes but Suarez's header hit the woodwork.

 

What does it mean? Match of the tournament

Amid small crowds and VAR controversies this month, Japan and Uruguay produced the best game of the Copa America so far. Played at a high pace and with a lot of quality, both teams left everything on the pitch.

Japan show their quality

The Samurai Blue brought a young squad to Brazil, with a focus on next year's Olympics in Tokyo. While they were put to the sword by Chile, Japan were a constant threat against Uruguay and unfortunate not to claim their first Copa victory.

VAR in the spotlight again

Technology has played a big role in this year's tournament and the video assistant referee was in the thick of the action again on Thursday. Uruguay benefited from a controversial decision in the first half, which raised further questions about VAR's accuracy.

Key Opta Facts:

- Japan avoided defeat for the second time in the Copa America (W0 D2 L3), after a 1-1 draw against Bolivia in 1999.
- Cavani has now played 112 games for Uruguay, the joint-third most, level with Diego Forlan.
- Miyoshi is the first player to score a Copa America brace against Uruguay since Argentina's Luciano Figueroa in 2004.
- Suarez has scored Uruguay's last four penalties. He is only the third Uruguay player in history to score in four consecutive Copa America appearances (two in 2011 and two in 2019), after Pedro Petrone (five, between 1923 and 1924) and Severino Varela (four, between 1937 and 1939).

What's next?

Group C concludes with Uruguay facing Chile on Monday, while Japan meet Ecuador on the same day.

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Sacha Pisani

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