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Kubo on target as Japan thrash Ghana

Kobe (Japan) (AFP) – Real Madrid starlet Takefusa Kubo scored his first international goal as Japan thrashed Ghana 4-1 on Friday to step up their World Cup preparations.

The 21-year-old Kubo, who spent last season on loan at Mallorca, turned home Kaoru Mitoma’s cross midway through the second half to open his account for Japan in his 17th appearance.

The four-time Asian champions lost 1-0 to Brazil in Tokyo earlier in the week, finally succumbing to a late Neymar penalty after holding their own for most of the match.

They turned on the style against Ghana, who have also qualified for the World Cup, as Miki Yamane, Mitoma and Celtic striker Daizen Maeda also got themselves on the scoresheet.

Japan will play Tunisia in the final of the four-team Kirin Cup tournament on Tuesday after the North Africans beat Chile 2-0 earlier in the day.

Japan dominated the first half against Ghana and it was little surprise when Yamane gave them the lead in the 29th minute.

Kubo and Ritsu Doan created space with a quick-fire passing exchange, and right back Yamane swept the ball home with a left-foot shot.

Ghana defender Andrew Kyere Yiadom had a lucky escape from injury when Japan’s Hiroki Ito sent him flying upside down with a wayward challenge.

Ghana equalised against the run of play in the 44th minute when Yamane gave the ball away to Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew, who drilled it past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan made sure the visitors’ lead was short-lived, however, as Mitoma struck in first-half injury time with a cross that made it all the way in for a goal.

Kubo made the game safe for Japan in the second half, before substitute Maeda added a fourth goal with a close-range finish.

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