Kagawa Finds Long - Lost Scoring Touch

Kagawa finds long-lost scoring touchLike someone regaining a temporarily lost sense, Shinji Kagawa got his scoring touch back.
“I’m fighting to help the team win, and it’s important for me to be involved in the scoring,” Kagawa said after finding the net late to put the finishing touch on a 2-0 victory over Jordan in their Group D finale here Tuesday night.

With the victory, defending champion Japan finished on top of the group with the maximum nine points from three matches and will next face Group C runner-up United Arab Emirates in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Kagawa, who has been struggling of late at Borussia Dortmund, had been left off the scoresheet in Japan’s first two matches, extending his scoreless streak on national duty to nine games.

But in the 82nd minute, he slipped through a space in the Jordanian defense in front of goal, gained control of a Yoshinori Muto cross and blasted it a point-blank shot off the hands of keeper Amir Shafi and into the goal.

“The timing for getting into position was good, and I appreciate that Muto was watching [my movement],” Kagawa said.

It wasn’t as if Kagawa did not have his chances in the Samurai Blue’s first two games in Australia. In a system in which he freely changes positions with midfielders Yasuhito Endo and Takashi Inui, he found himself free in the goal area. But he was left frustrated by either missing the mark or having his shot saved by the keeper.

Kagawa’s last goal for Japan dated back to a friendly against Zambia in June last year.

With Japan needing just a draw to secure the top spot in the group, Keisuke Honda opened the scoring in the 24th minute with his third goal of the tournament.

While it would be nearly an hour later until Kagawa would double the lead, Japan rarely let the Jordanian attack come close to an equalizer. Jordan, which held Japan to a draw in the opening match of the 2011 tournament, got off only five shots on goal as the Japan completed the group stage without conceding a goal.