LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - World Cup-bound Japan were left in no doubt about the large task ahead of them in Russia after being outplayed by Ukraine and losing 2-1 in a friendly on Tuesday.
Oleksandr Karavaev ghosted into the penalty area to thump home a 69th-minute winner after a strong run down the left by Yevhen Konoplyanka to seal victory for Ukraine, who missed out on qualifying for this year’s World Cup in neighbouring Russia.
Ukraine took a 21st-minute lead when Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s long-range shot took a deflection but Japan were level at halftime after a glancing header by Tomoaki Makino from a 41st- minute free kick.
The Japanese used Standard Liege’s stadium as their base for two warm-up games having snatched a last-gasp draw with Mali on Friday.
Japan play Colombia in their opening World Cup game in Saransk on June 19 before taking facing Senegal and Poland in Group H.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond