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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 July 2007, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Scotland U20 1-3 Japan U20
By Colin Moffat

Calum Elliot and Andrew McNeil trudge off the park in Victoria
Scotland were well beaten by a good Japan side
Scotland lost their opening match at the Under-20 World Cup in Canada, having been outclassed by Japan.

Yasuhito Morishima tapped into an empty net after a blunder from keeper Andrew McNeil and Tsukasa Umesaki then arrowed a low shot home from 20 yards.

McNeil, who made a number of good saves, was again to blame when he failed to stop Jun Aoyama's strike.

Scotland staged a late rally and Hibs striker Ross Campbell found the net with a scuffed shot.

Backed by the bulk of a noisy, enthusiastic crowd at the Royal Athletic Park, Victoria, Scotland were bitterly disappointing.

The Scottish passing was wayward throughout, while their opponents looked comfortable, zipping quick passes along the deck.

Hibernian goalkeeper McNeil had his palms stung by an early long range effort before he was forced to awkwardly scoop the ball off his goal-line.

A fierce shot from Umesaki whistled narrowly over the crossbar and Jamie Adams then had to hack the ball away as he guarded a post from a corner.

It took Scotland 25 minutes to launch a meaningful attack and an interchange involving Lee Wallace and Ryan Conroy allowed Steven Fletcher to race in behind the Japanese defence.

The Hibs striker flashed in a first time shot on the angle but the ball flew a yard wide of the far post.

There were a few more scares for Scotland as Japan swarmed forward with menace, but the losing finalists at this event in 1999 squandered two good headed chances.

Livingston forward Graham Dorrans fired a 20-yard shot wide after an enterprising run.

But, having survived a series of slick attacks, the Scots conceded a terribly soft goal two minutes before the interval.

Celtic defender Cuthbert swiped at and missed a hopeful long pass and when McNeil advanced from the penalty box to kick the ball clear it was charged down by Morishima, who ran on to shoot into an empty net.

Yashuto Morishima taps in Japan's opening goal
Yashuto Morishima taps in Japan's opening goal

McNeil atoned for his mistake with a fantastic reflex save to keep out a close range shot from Kazuhisa Kawahara.

The second half started with Japan again making all the running and McNeil had to hold on to a dipping strike from the impressive Umesaki.

But the keeper had no answer to Umesaki when Cuthbert backed off the midfielder, capped at senior level, and his terrific strike flew into the bottom corner of the net.

Captain Cuthbert was having a day to forget and he made a terrible mess of a free header from six yards that may have thrown the Scots a lifeline.

McNeil made another fine save to stop a Kawahara shot and the keeper did well to block from Morishima as the striker broke clear.

However, McNeil was left red-faced when he failed to gather an ambitious long range effort from Aoyama, tipping the ball into the net when a catch look easy.

Scotland grabbed a late goal when a loose ball broke to Campbell and his mis-hit shot crawled into the net.

His club-mate Fletcher then blazed a strike inches wide of the post as Scotland left it far too late to pose a threat.

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