Uruguay scored twice in each half to earn a 4-2 road victory in an international friendly against Japan. Diego Forlan scored twice to pace the Celeste.
Japan was the better side during the early stages of the match. Makoto Hasebe had an opportunity Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was forced to push wide. A short time later, a mix-up between Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki prevented a Samurai Blue scoring chance.
Uruguay finally put some serious pressure on Japan just inside the quarter-hour mark. Luis Suarez broke free from the defense but was unable to beat veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima from short range.
The Samurai Blue quickly regained control of the match. Their next notable scoring opportunity came when Honda took a free kick from a dangerous area. He put the shot on target, but Muslera was up to the task again.
Then the complexion of the match would change completely in the span of three minutes. Japan, which had been the more dangerous side early on, watched Forlan, the veteran Uruguayan forward, score two quick goals.
First, in the 26th minute, he took a pass from Suarez and easily slotted it in the back of the net.
A couple minutes later, Forlan delivered a perfect free kick into the far corner to stretch Uruguay's lead to 2-0.
The quick shift in momentum seemed to stun the Japanese squad. They were far less active for the final 15 minutes of the half and were lucky Uruguay didn't increase its lead again before getting a chance to regroup at halftime.
Japan failed to take advantage of a lucky bounce early in the second half. The ball pinballed off a couple Celeste defenders and allowed Shinji Kagawa to break free. The rising star from Manchester United couldn't get his shot past Muslera, though.
It proved to be a key turning point as Suarez scored a short time later to make it 3-0 Uruguay. A poor clearance attempt by Maya Yoshida allowed the dynamic forward to get a clear look at goal, and he didn't miss.
After plenty of chances, the Samurai Blue finally got on the scoreboard in the 54th minute. Poor communication at the back left Kagawa free with an open goal, and he simply touched it home.
It was a deserved tally for Japan, which took full advantage of the costly mistake by Uruguay.
Unfortunately for the Samurai Blue, Uruguay answered right back. As the Japan defense scrambled, Alvaro Gonzalez found a soft spot in the box and headed a cross into the net to make it 4-1.
Credit to Japan for continuing the fight. It could have easily folded with the match out of reach, but it kept pushing forward.
The effort eventually paid off as the Samurai Blue won a free kick deep in Uruguay's half. Honda proceeded to connect on the match's second terrific free-kick goal.
Japan continued to control the pace of play from that point but wasn't able to add to its goal total. Uruguay was able to make a few key clearances to preserve the lead en route to a 4-2 road triumph.
The match wasn't as lopsided as the scoreline would make it seem, however.
Uruguay hopes the momentum from this victory carries over to the next set of World Cup qualifiers, which are slated to begin Sept. 6 against Peru. The Celeste are precariously sitting in fifth place in the CONMEBOL table.
Japan, which has already qualified for Brazil next summer, has a pair of friendlies next month. It will face Guatemala and Ghana. The main focus in those matches will be improving the defensive effort.