Latvia comeback earns a friendly draw

October 8, 2005

RIGA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Latvia came from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw with Japan at the start of the visitors' short two-match tour of Europe on Saturday.

Japan, using this match and Wednesday's friendly against Ukraine as part of their preparations for next year's World Cup finals in Germany, took the lead after only five minutes when Naohiro Takahara scored with a superb 30-metre effort.

Shunsuke Nakamura doubled Japan's lead early in the second half when he scored from a penalty, but Latvia, already eliminated from the World Cup after an indifferent qualifying campaign in European Group Four, began their fightback when Vits Rimkus scored after Japan failed to clear a corner.

Midfielder Andrejs Rubins took advantage of another lapse in the Japanese defence to score his late equaliser.

Japan featured nine Europe-based players but Brazilian coach Zico was without a host of usual regulars including defenders Tsuneyasu Miyamoto of Gamba Osaka, Akira Kaji of FC Tokyo and midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara, because of their commitent in a J. League All-Star match.