Japan hold Brazil
Frankfurt, June 23:
It took a week, but the Confederations Cup semi-finalists are set — Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Mexico. Mexico and Brazil each scraped by with draws on the final day of group play on Wednesday. Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Greece clinched first place in Group B, setting up a Sunday semi-final in Hanover against Latin American rival Argentina, runner-up in Group A. Brazil hung on for a 2-2 draw against Asia champion Japan, putting the five-time World Cup winner into Saturday’s semis against Group A winner Germany in Nuremberg. Masashi Oguro’s 88th-minute goal allowed Japan to draw. Robinho gave Brazil a lead after 10 minutes, and Shunsuke Nakamura equalised in the 27th. Five minutes later, Ronaldinho put Brazil up 2-1.
The main casuality was Euro champion Greece, which lost two of three games and failed to score in this eight-team warm-up for next year’s World Cup in Germany. Japan convinced the doubters with the draw against Brazil. Seven minutes after Kaji’s goal was called back, Ronaldinho carried the ball 50 yards before sliding it to Robinho, who fired left-footed under ‘keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi. Nakamura produced a stunning equaliser in the 27th with a 25-yard shot. But Brazil regained the lead five minutes later when Ronaldinho took a pass from Robinho and scored from 10 yards. Japan made it 2-2 with two minutes to go when a free kick from Nakamura hit the post and, although Marcos partly blocked the rebound from Oguro, the ball went in. Japan almost snatched the winner moments later, but Marcos saved a shot by Oguro.