Uruguay and Japan share spoils as VAR takes centre-stage once again

Japan secured their first point of the Copa America by holding Uruguay to a 2-2 draw in a match that had its fair share of controversial decisions. Yokohama F.Marinos midfielder Koji’s Miyoshi’s first two international goals were cancelled by goals from Luis Suarez and Jose Gimenez.

Japan seemed way different from the team that lost 4-0 to Uruguay. Their attack had great flair with Miyoshi controlling the flow of the game brilliantly from the middle of the park. Shinji Okazaki had a couple of chances to open the scoring for Japan but failed to do so.

Japan eventually opened the scoring in the 25th minute thanks to the brilliance of Miyoshi who scored his first international goal in only his second appearance. Just minutes later, a tussle between Edinson Cavani and Japan defender Naomichi Ueda saw Cavani on the ground. It didn’t seem much of a foul from Ueda but after consulting VAR, referee Andres Rojas awarded a penalty to Uruguay. Luis Suarez stepped up and sent goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima the wrong way to equalise for Uruguay. This goal took Suarez’s international goal tally to 58.

The goal raised Uruguay’s morale and in turn, their attacking intensity. Cavani had a very good chance to put Uruguay ahead through a fine long-range shot but it hit the woodwork. Uruguay were dominating in possession and attempts but Japan looked sound.

Early in the second half, Japan’s Shoya Nakajima was brought down in the penalty area by substitute Giovanni Gonzalez but the referee did nothing about it. However, Japan eventually restored their lead when Fernando Muslera blocked Shoya Nakajima’s cross only for Miyoshi to tap in from the rebound. Uruguay kept on attacking fiercely but Eiji Kawashima and the Japanese defense kept on thwarting their attempts.

Uruguay eventually got their equaliser after Jose Gimenez headed in from a Nicolas Lodeiro corner in the 66th minute. This was the Atletico Madrid defender’s second Copa America goal with both of them coming on the same date, June 20th.

Both teams tried hard to score a winner but were unable to do so and at the end of the final whistle, Japan and Uruguay won a point each.

Uruguay now have four points from two matches and are all but through to the quarter-finals. Even a draw in their final group game against Chile at the Maracana on Monday. Japan also have a chance of qualification to the quarter-finals as they could be in the last eight by beating Ecuador on Monday when the two face at Belo Horizonte.

 

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