Yuito Suzuki’s brace propelled Japan to a 5-2 comeback win over Argentina in an under-22 international friendly Saturday as the two nations geared up toward their respective Paris Olympic football qualifiers next year.
The attacker for Danish side Brondby found the bottom right corner from the edge of the box to level at 2-2 in the 66th minute, then tapped home for the lead nine minutes later in a memorable return to IAI Stadium in Shizuoka, home to his former club Shimizu S-Pulse.
Japan’s Yuito Suzuki (R) equalizes against Argentina during the second half of an under-22 international friendly at IAI Stadium in Shizuoka on Nov. 18, 2023. (Kyodo)
“I’m relieved as I absolutely wanted to score here,” Suzuki said. “It’s good I could score, but there are areas where they were better than us, when we look at our performances individually, and we’ll keep working hard.”
Werder Bremen forward Kein Sato found the bottom left corner from 20 meters out to give manager Go Oiwa’s team an 18th-minute lead. Pablo Solari capitalized on a defensive error to level 1-1 four minutes later, before Thiago Armada’s free kick from outside the box gave Javier Mascherano’s side the lead in the 50th minute.
Suzuki turned the game around before Kashima Antlers midfielder Yuta Matsumura curled a 30-meter stunner into the top left corner in the 81st minute and Borussia Monchengladbach forward Shio Fukuda scored in the 43rd minute — two minutes after coming on — through the legs of keeper Fabricio Iacovich.
Japan will look to book their tickets to the Paris Olympics at the U-23 Asia Cup in Qatar next April and May, while Argentina begin South American qualifiers in January. The two teams play again behind closed doors on Tuesday.