Belo Horizonte: Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni put the Asian champions’ disappointing 2-1 defeat to Mexico on Saturday down in part to their exertions in the 4-3 loss to Italy in their previous FIFA Confederations Cup fixture.
Belo Horizonte: It was a disappointing end to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup for Japan as the AFC Asian Cup holders went down 2-1 to Mexico on Saturday.
Javier Hernandez, a team-mate of AFC Asian International Player of the Year Shinji Kagawa at English Premier League champions Manchester United (both pictured), scored twice but missed a last-minute penalty to leave the four-time Asian champions winless at the Confederations Cup.
Hernandez took his tally for the tournament to three as Mexico registered their first victory.
The win, however, came in a 'dead' game after Brazil and Italy had already made sure of their places in the semi-finals as Group A qualifiers.
Hernandez, who had scored his team's only goal of the competition in the 2-1 loss to Italy, opened the scoring in the 54th minute.
He timed a run perfectly to meet a cross from Andres Guardado before heading the ball past Eiji Kawashima in the Japan goal.
Twelve minutes later, Hernandez made it 2-0.
Giovani Dos Santos sent over a corner which was flicked on at the near post by Hiram Mier for the Manchester United man to head home from close range.
Japan refused to give up with Yasuyuki Konno seeing a goalbound effort cleared away by the feet of keeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The World Cup qualifiers pulled one back four minutes from time when Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki tapped in a simple chance.
Hernandez had a chance to make it 3-1 in stoppage time when he was brought down in the area.
However, Kawashima pulled off a fine save from the resulting penalty with the striker then smashing the rebound off the crossbar.
The result allowed Mexico, who had also lost 2-0 to Brazil, to finish third in Group A.
Japan ended the tournament with three defeats, having already been beaten 3-0 by Brazil and 4-3 by Italy.
There were few chances in the first half at Belo Horizonte with Mexico enjoying more of the ball.
They were unlucky not to have taken the lead in the 40th minute when Valencia midfielder Guardado sent a flying header off the post.
Japan had thought they had gone ahead on nine minutes when Okazaki deflected a cross from captain Yasuhito Endo into the net.
But referee Felix Brych of Germany ruled it out for offside.
Belo Horizonte: Despite a gruelling if successful 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign AFC Asian Cup holders Japan came to the Confederations Cup full of hope while expectations were high for fellow Group A aspirants and Olympic champions Mexico.
Recife: Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni admitted he had mixed feelings after the Asian champions’ interest in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup following Wednesday’s 4-3 defeat to Italy with the Samurai Blue’s display of strength and skill bringing pride to the country and the continent.
Recife: Japan saw their chances of a place in the semi-finals of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup end on Wednesday as the Asian champions lost 4-3 to European powerhouse Italy in a thrilling encounter at the Arena Pernambuco.
Recife: Japan skipper Makoto Hasebe has pinpointed Andrea Pirlo as Italy’s dangerman as the Asian champions look to keep their 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup hopes alive when they take on the four-time World Cup winners on Wednesday.
Brasilia: Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni conceded that his players let the spectacle of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup opener against Brazil affect them as the AFC Asian Cup champions crashed to a 3-0 defeat.
Brasilia: AFC Asian Cup champions made a disappointing start to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup campaign as hosts Brazil eased to a 3-0 win in the tournament curtain-raiser.
Brasilia: AFC Asian International Footballer of the Year 2012 Shinji Kagawa says Japan's hard-fought campaign to qualify for next year's World Cup has given him a better appreciation of what it takes to succeed at the top level.