TOYOTA, Japan (AFP) – Talisman Keisuke Honda provided the thrust as Japan overpowered Honduras 6-0 on Friday to relieve some of the pressure on coach Javier Aguirre.
Honda scored once, set up three more and was by far Japan’s most dangerous player in a lopsided game between two teams who flopped badly at the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year.
“We played a complete game today,” Aguirre told Japan’s TV Asahi. “We’re building for the Asian Cup in January and obviously we will be going there to win it. We showed excellent balance tonight and brought joy to the fans.”
Aguirre abandoned the tinkering that contributed to an alarming run of form in the Mexican’s first four matches in charge, naming 10 of Japan’s World Cup squad among his starting eleven in Toyota.
And it took the Asian champions just nine minutes to open their account, defender Maya Yoshida stooping to head into an empty net after a wicked corner from dead-ball specialist Yasuhito Endo.
Endo, discarded by Aguirre since the former Espanyol manager took over from Italian Alberto Zaccheroni following the World Cup, marked his return with a superb goal as he extended his record number of Japan caps to 147.
Honda had made it 2-0 moments earlier with a cool finish, before neatly teeing up Endo to smash home a right-foot shot from the edge of the box on the stroke of halftime.
Takashi Inui clinically netted Japan’s fourth moments the second half after being picked out by Honda and grabbed his second of the game in the 74th minute after fellow substitute Yohei Toyoda had added a fifth as the floodgates burst open.
The Blue Samurai had won just once under Aguirre before Friday’s friendly – a fortuitous 1-0 victory over Jamaica – and were humiliated by Brazil in their last outing last month when Neymar scored all four goals in a 4-0 mauling.
Japan, who will bid to defend their Asian Cup title in Australia, take on the tournament host Socceroos in Osaka on Tuesday in their final match of the year.