Edinson Cavani set Uruguay on their way to a comfortable 2-0 win over Japan on Friday as Mexican Javier Aguirre endured a painful first game in charge of the Asian champions.
If Aguirre was under any illusions as to the scale of the task he faces in rebuilding Japan’s World Cup flops, they were soon extinguished in Sapporo, Cavani pouncing in the 34th minute to give the South Americans a deserved lead.
Substitute Abel Hernandez doubled Uruguay’s advantage after 70 minutes, stabbing home from close range following another mix-up in the Japanese defence.
“Uruguay are a very strong team and you can’t afford to make defensive errors, or they will punish you,” Aguirre told reporters. “We made two mistakes, they scored twice and it was all over. There are many areas we need to improve but clearly we need to work on our concentration in defence.”
Even without controversial Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, Uruguay had too much pace and power for a toothless Japan side captained by the ineffective Keisuke Honda.
The visitors, beaten 2-0 by Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup after Suarez had been booted out of the tournament for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, squandered a golden opportunity to take an early lead when Cristian Rodriguez missed a point-blank header.
If Japan’s marking at set-pieces left much to be desired, a shocking mistake from defender Tatsuya Sakai on his international debut gifted Uruguay their first goal.
Quickest to the loose ball after Sakai had overrun it, Diego Rolan intelligently released Cavani, who finishing clinically past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Hernandez rubbed salt into Japan’s wounds with 20 minutes to go, sweeping home after Kawashima, repeatedly left unprotected, had saved from Nicolas Lodeiro.
Substitute Yoshinori Muto briefly raised the pulse rate when he hit the post from long distance two minutes from time but Japan never seriously troubled Uruguay, who face South Korea next week.
Japan will play four more friendlies after facing Venezuela, including a glamour game against Brazil in Singapore next month, before they open the defence of their Asian Cup title in January. – Agence France-Presse