Five star Japan crush Finland

Forward Shinji Okazaki scored two goals to lead Japan to a 5-1 thrashing of an under-strength Finland on Wednesday in a warm-up game for a crucial FIFA World Cup™ qualifier next week.

Okazaki opened the scoring after receiving a long pass from Atsuto Uchida in the 15th minute, and then he made it two on another long pass from Kengo Nakamura in the 32nd minute.

Shortly before the break, midfielder Shinji Kagawa dribbled through to beat three defenders and score past goalkeeper Tomi Maanoja for the third goal.

Finland, whose midfielder Tim Sparv hit the bar in the 26th minute, got off to a flying start in the second half when Roni Porokara scored a rebound off goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki in the 50th minute.

However, the Japanese regained the initiative and added another when defender Yuji Nakazawa jumped highest on a Uchida cross seven minutes later. Substitute Michihiro Yasuda completed the scoring in the 86th minute.

"I'm just glad that I was able to score. I was able to get past defenders in the first half very well, but my performance was not good enough in the second half," said Okazaki. "I want to keep the momentum to beat Australia next week."

Japan coach Takeshi Okada appeared satisfied with the performance. "This is a test match. But Australia are a stronger team than Finland and we still have some more days to improve," said Okada.

"First of all, we must eliminate their chances off set-piece plays. Hopefully, we can play our best football next week," he added.

Next Wednesday, Japan will take on Group A leaders Australia in a South Africa 2010 qualifier at Yokohama Stadium.