Canada Bests Japan In Final World Cup Tune-Up
Canada’s final World Cup tune-up ended in with a back-and-forth 2-1 win over Japan, with a set piece header from big centre-back Steven Vitoria and a 95th minute penalty from Lucas Cavallini handing the Reds the win.
There’s a lot of positives to take from the match, though there was room for improvement from Les Rouges, too.
Canada’s line-up for its last match ahead of the World Cup may not have included the likes of Alphonso Davies or Stephen Eustaquio, but unlike the group that featured against Bahrain, this group included an influx of talent whom we expect to see feature for Canada in World Cup action.
Despite an impressive opening few minutes for Les Rouges, it was Japan who would mark their name on the scoresheet first after Yuki Soma touched home a brilliant long ball that caught Canada out of its block after eight minutes played:
Despite going behind, Canada looked flush on the ball in a line-up that featured a good mix of young talent with veterans like Atiba Hutchinson and Junior Hoilett. Pushing up from the back, young Alistair Johnston – setting a record of 28 straight appearances for Canada tonight – also looked sharp, with Japan clearly finding it difficult to deal with the fast-feet of Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David, too.
It was nearly all for naught as Japan would nearly sting on the counter once again, with Takefusa Kubo firing a shot just wide of the far-post. One minute later, however, Canada earned a corner kick that would change the shape of the match.
Vitoria, who had flashed a header wide earlier in the half, came up big during the set piece, redirecting a long shot from Hutchinson from close range to tie things up for Herdman’s side:
The first half would see Canada and Japan produce some end-to-end entertainment, with Canada having quickly adjusted to meet their opponent’s highly technical game. They pushed well on the wings, with Hoilett having himself a game in terms of set piece delivery. While it wasn’t Japan’s strongest eleven either, Canada certainly didn’t look like underdogs while facing their fellow World Cup entrants.
While Buchanan and David pinged off a few opportunities throughout the first half, the opening 45 minutes would end 1-1. The second half saw Herdman replace Samuel Piette with his CF Montreal teammate Ismael Kone, who scored his first goal for Les Rouges against Bahrain last week.
Japan looked dangerous in the opening stanza of the second half, earning a freekick right outside the box that went straight into Junior Hoilett. Japan’s Minamino found himself unmarked at the edge of the box not long after, though his effort went right into the waiting mitts of Milan Borjan.
The Reds would play some beautiful one-touch ball to work themselves into the box, but would lose possession before getting a shot off in a dangerous area – though it’s fair to say they should have.
The substitutions then would pour forth from Herdman as he sought to give players game-time ahead of the World Cup, with a TFC triple-sub seeing Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio, and Richie Laryea all coming on as Tajon Buchanan, Samuel Adekugbe, and Atiba Hutchinson went out. With twenty minutes to go, Herdman would then add Waterman and Cavallini into the mix, with Johnston and Larin stepping off.
It was Lucas Cavallini – who is a member of ‘Unattached FC’ for now – who would secure a last-gasp win for Les Rouges, lobbing home a panenka penalty after Richie Laryea was fouled in the box. The cheeky move nearly backfired as Japan’s goalkeeper got a mitt to it, but couldn’t stop it from going in.
The last-gasp penalty conversation secured a 2-1 win for Canada, who now marches into the 2022 World Cup on a winning note. That’ll probably be the last panenka we see from Canada for a while, though.
With Alphonso Davies en route to join the squad and confirmation that Stephen Eustaquio was rested as a precaution, it’s a morning of celebration for the Canada camp before the hard work resumes.
Canada’s first World Cup tournament since 1986 will begin in a tough group containing Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco, with the Les Rouges set to open against Belgium on November 23.