England steals friendly from Japan

England missed a penalty but came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in a World Cup warmup match on Sunday thanks to two own goals.
England's Tom Huddlestone, left, tackles Shinji Okazaki of Japan during Sunday's friendly. ((Mark Kolbe/Getty Images))

England missed a penalty but came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in a World Cup warmup match on Sunday thanks to two own goals.

After Marcus Tanaka had given Japan a seventh-minute lead, England's Frank Lampard had a penalty saved by Eiji Kawashima.

But Tanaka headed a cross by Joe Cole into his own net in the 72nd minute and Yuji Nakazawa deflected a cross by Ashley Cole past his goalkeeper in the 83rd.

The game was played in the Austrian city of Graz so that the two teams could get used to playing in the high-altitude conditions they will encounter next month in South Africa.

It was England's final test before manager Fabio Capello picks his final 23-man squad on Tuesday and the Italian gave fringe players like midfielder Tom Huddlestone and striker Darren Bent the chance to make an impression.

"It was a very interesting game for me because I saw a lot of players that didn't play before and I learned more," Capello said. "I wanted to try some some different style (in the first half). The result was not good. I've learned some players can't play this style."

Capello said the game has not changed his ideas on who will be included in the World Cup squad.

"I know the value of all players. I don't change my mind over this game," he said. "You have to wait until June 1. I know [the 23]. You have to wait … Nothing has changed after today."

Capello refused to discuss his own future as England manager ahead of a meeting with FA officials on Monday after rumours of a possible move to Inter Milan as replacement for Jose Mourinho.

"I don't speak with some people from Inter Milan. I know nothing about this," Capello said. "The situation will be clear in two days."

Huddlestone was given his first start for England after only being used as a substitute before, against Brazil and Mexico, and was hoping to secure a spot in central midfield in the continued absence of Gareth Barry, who has been unable to train since early May due to damaged right ankle ligaments.

"We have to wait for the check of the doctors. After that we will decide if he will be with us in South Africa," Capello said.

Goalkeeper David James gained his 50th England cap as Capello gave him his first start in the team for 13 months. He was replaced at the start of the second half by Joe Hart.

Also returning were Chelsea players Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry, who missed England's 3-1 defeat of Mexico on Monday after being given extra time off following the FA Cup final.

Tanaka gave Japan the lead when his shot following a low corner from the right beat James at his near post.

Lampard came close to equalizing when he fired in two free kicks, one saved by Kawashima, the other blocked by the wall.

"I am happy for the second half. I think we played better, faster. We found the space," Capello said. "[In the first] we played too slow, passes wide. It was easy for the Japanese to defend."

Steven Gerrard forced Kawashima into a save shortly after coming on as a replacement for Huddlestone in the second half. Ten minutes later, Lampard saw his penalty saved by the goalkeeper.

Tanaka levelled the score with his own goal and, from a similar attacking position 11 minutes later, England went ahead when Nakazawa deflected a cross by left back Ashley Cole into his own goal.

Kawashima denied England more goals by producing several superb saves to keep out shots by Lampard, Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, while substitute Emile Heskey saw his header go just wide shortly before the final whistle.

As against Mexico, Rooney, who has been struggling with ankle and groin problems since March, played the full 90 minutes but failed to score. He has not found the net in his last six appearances for club or country.

England plays the United States, Algeria and Slovenia in its group at the World Cup, while Japan shares a group with Cameroon, Netherlands and Denmark.