Football: Winger Mitoma shines as Japan cruise to 4-1 win over Ghana

Japan's Kaoru Mitoma (centre) is congratulated after scoring a goal against Ghana, on June 10, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Kaoru Mitoma scored one and set up another as Japan handed fellow World Cup qualifiers Ghana a 4-1 defeat in Kobe in the semi-finals of the Kirin Cup friendly tournament on Friday (June 10).

Mitoma, who is contracted to Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion but spent last season on loan with Belgium's Union SG, was in dazzling form as Hajime Moriyasu's much-changed side bounced back from Monday's loss to Brazil.

The Japanese will play Tunisia in Tuesday's final of the invitational tournament after Jalel Kadri's team won 2-0 against Chile earlier in the day.

Moriyasu made nine changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Brazilians, with only captain Maya Yoshida and midfielder Wataru Endo retaining their places in the starting line-up.

The home side dominated from the opening whistle, with Ritsu Doan pulling a shot wide after dispossessing Edmund Addo inside the Ghana half while Ayase Ueda should have done better with his 21st -minute header, which Lawrence Ati-Zigi easily collected.

Japan claimed the goal their dominance warranted in the 29th minute when Miki Yamane started and finished a passing move on the edge of the area.

The Kawasaki Frontale man laid off to Takefusa Kubo, whose pass into the penalty area was redirected into Yamane's path by Doan and the full back made no mistake as he swept his shot home.

It was a 44th-minute error from Yamane that allowed Ghana back into the game when the fullback's pass across the face of his own penalty area was intercepted by Christopher Antwi-Adjei and his layoff to Jordan Ayew was fired into the top corner.

Japan were back in front before the half-time whistle, however, when Mitoma's curling ball from the left missed the out-stretched boot of the sliding Doan but still beat Ati-Zigi.

The 23-year-old winger used his pace and control to unlock the Ghana defence again 17 minutes from time when he turned Daniel Amartey before presenting Kubo with a straight forward conversion.

Substitute Junya Ito then set up Daizen Maeda, who had also stepped off the bench, to slide in to score the fourth eight minutes from time.

Japan will face the Tunisians on Tuesday as goals from Ali Abdi and Issam Jebali secured their win over Chile.

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