Japan secured a 1-1 draw with Uruguay in Tokyo on Friday as substitute Takuma Nishimura scored with his first touch to cancel out Federico Valverde’s opener for the visitors in the Samurai Blue’s first outing since last year’s World Cup.
The Yokohama F Marinos man pounced on Junya Ito’s inviting low centre from the right 15 minutes from time after Valverde had given Uruguay a 38th minute lead.
Valverde’s goal had come against the run of play, the Real Madrid midfielder reacting quickest after his initial shot had come back off the post and, with goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt on the floor, the Uruguayan headed into the empty net.
The game was Japan’s first since coach Hajime Moriyasu extended his contract after leading the country into the knockout rounds at the World Cup in Qatar and the starting line-up featured a mixture of old and new for the home side.
Right back Yukinari Sugawara was making only his second appearance for Japan, more than two-and-a-half years after his debut, while previously uncapped Ayumu Seko partnered Ko Itakura in the centre of a new-look defence.
But it Japan’s second half substitutes who earned Moriyasu’s side a deserved draw.
Ito, on as a replacement for Ritsu Doan in the 61st minute, saw a penalty initially awarded by referee Ko Hyun-jin overturned by the Video Assistant Referee before the Reimes winger teed up Nishimura to score the equaliser.
The Uruguayans, who will face South Korea in Seoul on Tuesday, almost snatched the win five minutes from time when Fecundo Torres hit the crossbar.