This match was England's players last opportunity to prove to Fabio Capello that they should be named in his 23-man World Cup Finals squad when it is announced on Tuesday. Capello made seven changes to the side which started the gamea against Mexico six days earlier: David James was in for Rob Green, John Terry replaced Ledley King, Ashley Cole took the place of Leighton Baines, Tom Huddlestone was in for James Milner, Frank Lampard took the place of Carrick, Steven Gerrard made room for Aaron Lennon, and lastly, Darren Bent replaced Peter Crouch.
England started with a 4-4-2 formation (switching to 4-4-1-1 later in the match) and within seven minutes were a goal down. Endo took a corner for Japan and Tanaka, who was on the edge of the area, hit the ball, beating David James, who was making his 50th appearance for his country. England had opportunities but squandered their chances unfortunately, and failed to equalise in the first half. Quite what England's manager said at half-time, we don't know, but we can assume that it wasn't a pleasant team talk for his players.
The second half got underway with England making five substitutions. The changes did seem to make a difference, with the side looking more lively. That said, Honda made an excellent 30-yard shot which hit Hart's crossbar, although it appeared the England goalkeeper touched the ball. There was a glimmer of hope in the 56th minute when Honda's hand came into contact with the ball. Frank Lampard stepped forward to take the awarded penalty, but Japan's 'keeper made a good save and the rebound was steered away, making it another penalty kick miss for the Chelsea player, following the one he missed in the FA Cup Final earlier in the month.
Joe Hart made a good save when Morimoto's, on for Okazaki, shot took a deflection from John Terry. A minute later Japan's 'keeper stopped a 20-yeard strike from Wayne Rooney. England finally equalised in the 72nd minute but it was an own goal from Japan's scorer, Tanaka, who headed the ball into his own net after a cross from Joe Cole.
Eleven minutes later Japan scored another own goal, this time from Nakazawa. Ashley Cole's cross ended up in Kawahima's net as Nakazawa's clearance went past the Japanese goalkeeper. Emile Heskey missed a golden opportunity for an England player to get on the scoresheet after Gerrard, on his 80th appearance for his country, sent in a cross, but the Aston Villa player put the ball wide.
In the final moments of the game, Hart was in action when Japan tried to equalise, but England left the field the victors, albeit very fortunately winners. Joe Cole showed that he should be in Capello's squad in South Africa, but we will find out those who made the final squad in two days.
Kawashima #21, Tanaka #4, Nakazawa #22, Nagatomo #5, Konno #15, Endo #7 (Tamada 86 mins- #11), Hasebe #17, Abe #2, Okubo #16 (Matsui 72 mins - #8), Honda #18, Okazaki #9 (Morimoto 65 mins - #19).
Subs Not Used: S Nakamura #10, Inamoto, K Nakamura #14, Iwamasa #19, Uchida, Komano #3, Kawaguchi #23, Yano #12, Narazaki #1.
James #1 (Hart 46 mins - #29), Terry #6, Ferdinand #5 - Captain, A Cole #3, G Johnson #2 (Carragher 46 mins - #13), Lampard #8, Huddlestone #4 (Gerrard 46 mins - #20), Lennon #11 (Heskey 77 mins - #28), Walcott #7 (Wright-Phillips 46 mins - #24), Rooney #10, Bent #9 (J Cole 46 mins - #25).
Subs Not Used: Green, Crouch, Parker, Carrick, Defoe, Upson, Dawson, Baines, Warnock, A Johnson. (Full Squad)
Japan Goal: Tanaka (7 mins)
England Goals: Tanaka OG (72 mins), Nakazawa OG (83 mins)
Referee: Rene Eisner (Austria)