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

Japan v Syria - International Friendly

CHOFU, JAPAN - JUNE 07: Keisuke Honda of Japan gestures during the international friendly match between Japan and Syria at Tokyo Stadium on June 7, 2017 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

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LIEGE, Belgium (AP) 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.