FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP

Stadion Köln

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Japan

  • Shunsuke Nakamura 27'
  • Masashi Oguro 88'

2 - 2

FT

Brazil

  • Robinho 10'
  • Ronaldinho 32'

Japan 2-2 Brazil: Nail-bitter

COLOGNE, Germany, June 22 (Reuters) - World champions Brazil

thwarted a late Japan fightback to claim a nail-biting 2-2 draw

on Wednesday and line up a Confederations Cup semi-final against

Germany.

Brazil, leading 2-1 with goals from Robinho and Ronaldinho,

were stunned when Masashi Oguro fired home a rebound with two

minutes to go after Shunsuke Nakamura's free kick had hit the

post.

Japan roared forward and Marcos had to make a point-blank

save from Oguro in injury-time to secure the draw Brazil needed

to claim second place in Group B on goal difference, earning the

semi-final against the hosts in Nuremberg on Saturday.

Group B winners Mexico will face Argentina in the second

semi-final in Hanover on Sunday.

Japan, coached by former Brazil midfielder Zico and playing

a style of football in keeping with his legacy, were fearless,

even as the world champions attacked with pace and guile in the

first half.

'We were playing to win,' Zico said. 'To nearly beat Brazil

one year before the World Cup shows that we've come a long way.'

With Robinho and Kaka cutting in from the wings and

Ronaldinho bringing the ball forward at dizzying speed, Japan

looked in danger of conceding every time they lost possession.

Brazil, their place in the semi-finals on the line after a

1-0 defeat by Mexico, looked more comfortable after taking the

lead in the 10th minute.

CLOSE CONTROL

Ronaldinho's close control took two defenders out of the

game in his own half.

The Barcelona forward glided forward and calmly waited for

Robinho to complete an angled run before playing the pass. The

Santos forward duly beat the keeper with a precise shot.

Japan, who finished the group in third place on four points,

were unlucky not to go ahead in the fourth minute when Akira

Kaji outpaced the defence and beat Marcos, only to be pulled up

for what looked an incorrect offside flag.

Mitsuo Ogasawara's header from a free kick then bounced on

the goal line and out before Nakamura struck the equaliser,

crashing in a shot from more than 30 metres to leave Marcos,

recalled in place of Dida, with no chance on 27 minutes.

Brazil stepped up a gear and reclaimed the lead five minutes

later when Kaka fed Robinho on the left and he picked out

Ronaldinho, who poked a shot that deflected in off the keeper.

The South Americans were electric up front but too often

over-elaborated.

Japan survived the rest of the half and almost levelled at

the start of the second when Marcos saved at the feet of Oguro.

A few minutes later Cicinho had to clear off the line from

Nakamura as Japan grew in confidence.

Brazil continued to create chances but lost their cool and

would have surrendered their place in the semi-finals but for

the last-gasp intervention of Marcos.

Scoring Summary

  • Japan
  • Brazil
(10') Robinho
(32') Ronaldinho

Match Stats

  • Japan
  • Brazil
6(4) Shots (on goal) 16(8)
11 Fouls 8
2 Corner kicks 4
1 Offsides 0
0% Time of Possession 0%
2 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
6 Saves 2

Teams

  • Japan
  • Brazil
Substitutes
Substitutions
Yellow Cards