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Japan vs. Netherlands Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

GENK, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 16:  Arjen Robben of Netherlands and Shinji Kagawa of Japan joke after the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Japan on November 16, 2013 in Genk, Belgium.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images,)
Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2013

Japan and Holland fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Belgium on Saturday as they partook in a friendly match, stepping up their World Cup 2014 preparations.

Japan had the early chances in the match, with Keisuke Honda blazing a free-kick over, Hotaru Yamaguchi shooting wastefully from 15 yards out and Shinji Okazaki missing from close range, all in the first seven or eight minutes of the game.

It was Holland who took the lead, though, after 12 minutes, Rafael van der Vaart taking advantage of hesitant defending to lob the ball over the Japan goalkeeper and into the net for the opening goal.

Half-chances ensued at either end, but Arjen Robben gave warning of what was to come with a curling shot after the half-hour mark. Nishikawa saved that one but could do nothing about the repeat performance on 38 minutes which found the top corner for 2-0.

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Yuya Osako quickly pulled a goal back with a smart first-time finish to make it 2-1 before half-time.

GENK, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 16:  Yuya Osako of Japan celebrates his team's first goal during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Japan on November 16, 2013 in Genk, Belgium.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images,)
Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

The second half started with Japan showing far better possession use and playing at a quicker tempo, and they were rewarded with an equaliser from Honda just before the hour mark. A fine team move ended when he swept home inside the near post for 2-2.

Both sides had opportunities to win the game thereafter, though it was certainly Japan who made more of the running and substitute Yoichiro Kakitani had the best chance to win the game, only to shoot wide with just Cillessen to beat.

 

Key Player Grades:

Arjen Robben: B

Robben took his goal exceptionally well and in the first half looked as hard-working and creative as he has been for Bayern of late, having been handed the Dutch captaincy in the absence of Robin van Persie. He and the rest of the Holland attack faded badly after the break, though, and he rarely impacted the game thereafter.

Rafael van der Vaart: B+

GENK, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 16:  Rafael van der Vaart of Netherlands is challenged by Shinji Okazaki of Japan during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Japan on November 16, 2013 in Genk, Belgium.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty
Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Like Robben, van der Vaart was a key player in the first half, scoring one and setting up the other as the Dutch took control. He was largely a chasing bystander in the second half, though, with Japan resurgent, and he rarely managed to get on the ball in the final third, other than blazing one shot high over the bar.

Keisuke Honda: B+

Honda operated in a deep midfield position to begin the game and, as such, was more of a link man than part of the attack. At half-time a number of switches allowed him to push on more and he was instrumental in the comeback. Several times his quick one-touch passing helped to open up the Dutch defence and he took his goal, the equaliser, extremely well.

Japan Player Grades
PositionPlayerGrade
GKNishikawaC+
DFUchidaC
DFYoshidaC
DFKonnoC+
DFNagatomoC+
MDHasebeC+
MDYamaguchiB
MDHondaB+
MDKiyotakeC
FWOkazakiB
FWOsakoB+
b/r
Holland Player Grades
PositionPlayerGrade
GKCillessenC+
DFJanmaatC
DFde VrijB+
DFVlaarD+
DFBlindD
MDN de JongC
MDStrootmanC
MDvan der VaartB+
FWLensC+
FWRobbenB
FWS de JongC+
b/r

 

What's Next?

Japan will play another friendly in Belgium, this time against the host nation themselves, on Tuesday.

Holland, meanwhile, will play a home friendly fixture against Colombia. Both Japan and Holland will feature at the World Cup next summer after winning a place in their respective qualifying zones.

 

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