SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, November 27, 2022: Japan's Wataru Endo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Costa Rica won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wataru Endo ends wait for international goal as Japan fall to Asian Cup defeat

Wataru Endo had a busy afternoon for Japan in their second group game at the Asian Cup, but his late goal was not enough to stop his side from succumbing to a 2-1 defeat.

The midfielder is currently leading his country at the tournament while his club team-mates prepare to travel to Bournemouth on Sunday.

After kickstarting their campaign with a win over Vietnam earlier in the week, Endo’s Japan followed up that result with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Iraq on Friday.

Liverpool’s No. 3 played the full 90 minutes for the second successive match and helped his side dominate the ball with the most touches of any player (100) and passes into the final third (14), as per FotMob.

More notably, the Japan captain gave his side late hope after heading the ball into the back of the net in third minute of stoppage time, expertly finding space from a corner at the back post.

It was his third goal for his country and the first since 2021.

It was a late reward for Japan’s efforts after they dominated possession (72 percent) and shots on goal (15 to Iraq’s eight) – but it was not enough to rescue any points after conceding twice in the first half.

Ayman Hussein scored in the fifth minute and again in stoppage time at the end of the first half for Iraq, helping to ensure his side remain unbeaten after two games.

Endo made a game high 12 recoveries throughout the match and received the second-highest rating from FotMob, ending the game with a score of 7.8 out of 10.

DOHA, QATAR - Wednesday, November 23, 2022: Japan players line-up for a team group photograph before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium. Back row L-R: goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, Hiroki Sakai, Ko Itakura, Ao Tanaka, Water Endo, Maya Yoshida. Front row L-R: Junya Ito, Takefusa Kubo, Daizen Maeda, Yuto Nagatomo, Daichi Kamada. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ex-Red Takumi Minamino also played the full 90 minutes but was unable to add to his goals from the opening game – one of which Endo supplied the assist for.

The result leaves Japan on three points with one group game remaining against Indonesia (Jan 24), but with the top two in each group plus the four best third-placed sides progressing, they will remain confident of taking part in the knockouts.