Colombia relied on their team captain and star forward Radamel Falcao’s goal in the 64th-minute penalty to beat the Samurai Blue of Japan 1 – 0 in an international competition in Yokohoma, Japan on Friday.
The Los Cafeteros scored sweet revenge in a rematch of their World Cup match last year where Japan handed Columbia a 2 – 1 loss in their preliminary round match-up. Japan paraded an entirely different team with only two players returning in center-back Gen Shoji and mid-fielder Gaku Shibasaki. Meanwhile, Colombia paraded an almost intact line-up bannered by Falcao and star player James Rodriguez.
Japan’s manager Hajime Morisayu gave opportunities to up-and-coming players including 25-year old Musashi Suzuki who gets his first senior cap, playing along Ritsu Doan, Shoya Nakajima, and Takumi Minamino. Other players who made their national team debut include 23-year old defender Koki Anzai and attacker Daichi Kadama who were substitutes late in the game.
The match started with Japan making several counterattacks early, but the visitor almost hit an early goal when Sebastian Villa hit the crossbar from a Luis Muriel pass in the early minutes of the game. Colombia dominated the first half with 60 percent of the possession favoring them. The visitors also came out more aggressive in the second half that put more pressure on the home team.
It was in the 64th minute when Takehiro Tomiyaso committed a handball while defending and blocking the shot of Duvan Zapata that gives way for the Falcao penalty shot to win it for the visiting team. Columbia won its first official match under new team manager Carlos Queroz. The 66-year old Portuguese and former manager of Iran were tasked to rebuild the team after the departure of Jose Pekerman after the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Japan will be hosting Bolivia in Kobe at the Noevir Stadium in another warm-up before the Copa America.