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

Ukraine's Yaroslav Rakitskiy, center left, is congratulated after scoring his sides first goal during an international 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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