Japan beats Paraguay 4-2 for 1st win under coach Nishino

Japan's Takashi Inui, left, and Paraguay's Alan Benitez challenge for the ball during the friendly soccer match between Japan and Paraguay in the Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck, Austria, on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) Japan won its first match under coach Akira Nishino, scoring four times in the second half in a 4-2 win over Paraguay on Tuesday to end a 231-minute goal drought.

Japan had lost 2-0 to both Ghana and Switzerland in its previous matches under Nishino, who took over from Vahid Halilhodzic in April.

Takashi Inui scored in the 51st and 63rd minutes to make up for Paraguay’s opening strike by Oscar Romero in the 32nd, while an own-goal by Federico Santander made it 3-1 in the 77th. Richard Ortiz netted for Paraguay in the 90th before Shinji Kagawa added Japan’s fourth in injury time.

Halilhodzic was dismissed two months before the start of the World Cup despite securing qualification for Japan with a match to spare.

Nishino picked several veteran players in his squad, including Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki, who struggled to make the team under Halilhodzic.

Japan will travel to its training base in Kazan on Wednesday. It will play against Colombia in its Group H opener in Saransk on Tuesday before facing Senegal and Poland.

Japan is making its sixth straight appearance at the World Cup, but it has only twice reached the knockout round, and both times going out in the last 16 — in 2002 and 2010.

Paraguay failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, finishing seventh in the 10-team CONMEBOL qualification group.