Japan completed a tremendous June international break with a 4-1 win over Peru on Tuesday at Gamba Osaka’s Panasonic Stadium Suita.
The Samurai Blue’s win over the South American side followed their 6-0 win over El Salvador, giving them two wins by a combined score of 10-1 for the window and sending them towards the winter’s Asian Cup in terrific form.
Japan were on the front foot from the start, troubling the Peru defense with their pace and putting the visitors under pressure. Yukinari Sugawara nearly put the Samurai Blue in front, but his blistering shot was blocked at the last minute. It was only a matter of time before Japan would break through, though.
In the 22nd minute, that’s exactly what happened as Júbilo Iwata academy product Hiroki Ito stepped into open space and ripped a shot from 25 yards that found the bottom corner of the net. It was Ito’s first goal for the senior team and sent the Samurai Blue flying.
Kaoru Mitoma doubled the Japan lead 15 minutes later, finding space on the counter, cutting in and hitting a shot that found its way into the netting. It was a perfect capper to the season for the Kawasaki Frontale product, who had a major breakout season with Brighton and Hove Albion and got a goal for his country before heading into a well-deserved offseason break.
Mitoma made another impact after halftime, feeding former Kashiwa Reysol man Junya Ito for Japan’s third goal.
Finally, Daizen Maeda, who was the J1 Top Scorer with Yokohama F·Marinos in 2021, raced in behind the defense and finished with ease for Japan’s fourth goal. By the time Peru got on the board in the 83rd minute, the match was not in doubt and the Samurai Blue were well on their way to a great win.
Japan are coming off of a 2022 World Cup that saw them beat two former champions to advance out of the group stage. That squad was made up entirely of players who play in or began their careers in the Meiji Yasuda J.League, as was the case for the team that dominated El Salvador and Peru this week. It is also expected to be the case in the fall, when the Samurai Blue look to continue building to the winter’s Asian Cup, where they will go for a record fifth continental crown.