Japan's World Cup preparations take a hit in loss to Ukraine

Japan's Makoto Hasebe, left, is challenged by Ukraine's Oleksandr Zinchenko during a friendly soccer match between Japan and Ukraine at Maurice Dufrasne Stadium in Liege, Belgium on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Japan's preparations for the World Cup took another hit after a 2-1 loss to Ukraine in a friendly

LIEGE, Belgium — Japan's preparations for the World Cup took another hit Tuesday.

The Japanese team, which will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H at the tournament in Russia, lost to Ukraine 2-1 in a friendly.

Japan has won only two of its last seven games and rarely looked capable of beating a Ukrainian team which didn't qualify for the World Cup.

In a near-empty stadium in Belgium, Yaroslav Rakitskiy put Ukraine ahead in the 21st minute with a powerful shot from outside the area that took a deflection off Japan defender Naomichi Ueda.

Japan equalized in the 41st when Tomoaki Makino scored with a header from a free kick, but Oleksander Karavaev scored the winner in the 69th with his first international goal.

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