Yamaguchi: We won as a team

Yamaguchi: We won as a team

Japan midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi said credit belonged to the entire team after he scored the dramatic game-winner in their 2-1 victory over Iraq in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

The Cerezo Osaka player made a massive impact coming on as a substitute, with his late strike enough to earn the Samurai Blue their consecutive wins on their road to Russia.

However, Yamaguchi insists he is not just to thank for a vital three points and that he is only concentrated on helping his side.

Asked why he ran to the bench to celebrate, he replied: “We won as a team, not as individuals, and I wanted to recognise that. 

“I thought the ball would be loose after the corner kick so I prepared for that. I’m just glad it went in. I just wanted to hit it hard enough to go through; if the ball rose any higher it would have hit a defender so I’m glad I could control it.

“Originally I was supposed to come on when we were leading 1-0, but [Iraq] scored while coach [Vahid Halilhodzic] was giving me instructions. The game opened up with that score, and the midfield became bogged down once I came on which made things difficult.

“Have I scored a more dramatic goal before? Probably not. But I’m more happy about Japan winning than I am about the goal.”

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