Canada beat Japan in final pre-World Cup friendly

Chris Smith
Cavallini's late penalty secured the win for Canada.
Cavallini's late penalty secured the win for Canada. / Martin Dokoupil/GettyImages

The Canadian Men's National Team beat Japan 2-1 on Thursday in their final friendly before the start of their World Cup campaign.

John Herdman's side are preparing for their first appearance at the tournament since 1986 and just their second of all time after finishing above Mexico and the United States in Concacaf qualifying.

The CanMNT open their campaign against Belgium on Wednesday but before then, Herdman wanted one last challenge against the sort of strong opposition they can expect in Qatar.

Things didn't start well at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, with Japan opening the scoring after just nine minutes as Yuki Soma finished an excellent pass over the top of the Canadian defense by Gaku Shibasaki.

However, it took just 12 minutes for Canada to respond through Steven Vitoria, who fired home from close range following a corner.

From there, Canada started to establish dominance in the match both in terms of possession and chances, but for a long while, it looked like they'd have to settle for a draw.

That was until Richie Laryea was brought down in the box by Miki Yamane deep into second-half stoppage time. Lucas Cavallini boldly attempted a Panenka finish and although goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda got a hand to it, the ball just about crossed the line.

The victory was all the more impressive given Canada played without key starters Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich and FC Porto's Stephen Eustaquio. Herdman was certainly left impressed with his players.

"It was important for our confidence to get a result, and to win was the icing on the cake," Herdman said after the match, via TSN.

"I needed to see that this group of men could bring that identity against a team like Japan, which technically is one of the best in the world. So for, this was a real team performance."

Eustaquio's availability against Belgium remains in 'amber not red' status according to Herdman due to an unnamed injury. Davies, meanwhile, is set to join the group on Friday but Herdman has insisted he won't rush the Bayern youngster back into action, even if it means he doesn't line up against Belgium on Wednesday.

Following the clash with the Red Devils, Canada face Croatia on November 27 and Morocco on December 1.

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