TOKYO (Reuters) – Venezuela captain Tomas Rincon's penalty nine minutes from full time saved a 1-1 lane in friendship with Japan in Oita on Friday after Hiroki Sakai made his first international goal for the hosts.
Japan entered the match on the back of three wins from three under new coach Hajime Moriyasu but they could not maintain their perfect record as they continue the preparations for the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, starting January 5th.
In an entertaining first half, where both teams appeared to attack, the visitors' best chance went to Solomon Rondon of Newcastle United after 11 minutes.
Rondon hit his shot during Japan goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt just for defender Takehiro Tomiyasu to run back and scratch the ball from the line with a sliding lung.
After the diminutive Shoya Nakajima had missed two good chances for Japan, he turned the supplier five minutes before half as they opened the points.
His hot, deep free kick was met by late arriving Sakai to score with a flying volley as Venezuela goalkeeper Rafael Romo could not hold out at his nearest post.
It was the first goal of the Olympique de Marseille defender in 49 appearances for his country.
The Japanese national team has traditionally been built on a solid defensive basis, but it is the attacking verve during Moriyasu which is most impressive.
Nakajima and Salzburg's Takumi Minamino, scored four times in six appearances for Samurai Blue, always threatened soloist Yuya Osako.
But after Nakajima and Osako were eliminated halfway in the second half, the pace fell and Venezuela hit back to the match.
They were rewarded for their stamina when Sakai went from hero to villain, bounced replacement Luis Gonzalez to the floor with a lumpy challenge to give away the penalty 10 minutes from full time.
Rincon sent the penalty penalties and sent the defender goalkeeper Schmidt in the wrong way.
It was late drama when Japan's captain Maya Yoshida thought he managed to win the victory with a title in injury time, just because it would be properly ruled out for offside.
The Japanese team arrived late at Oita Dome due to heavy traffic coming to the stadium and there were plenty of empty places to start the match, as supporters were also held up.
Moriyasu said after the match that a police escort was necessary to get the coach to the stadium before the kickoff.
This is a potentially worrying sign for next year's Rugby World Cup because Oita will host six matches, including two quarters.
The 40,000 Oita Dome capacity is almost 10 kilometers outside the city center.
Moriyasu's side has one last game to prepare for the Asian Cup, against Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing Toby Davis)