Japan shock France
A smash-and-grab goal from Yasuyuki Konno earned Japan their first victory over France.
Last Updated: 12/10/12 10:34pm
A smash-and-grab goal from Yasuyuki Konno earned Japan their first victory over France, who endured a demoralising warm-up to their crucial World Cup qualifier against Spain.
While the world champions prepared for Tuesday night's showdown with a comfortable 4-0 win over Belarus, Didier Deschamps' men were looking to stretch their legs against a nation they had beaten five times in five meetings.
But thanks to the heroics of visiting goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, and the astonishing profligacy of the French forward line, Konno's last-gasp goal on the counter ensured a weekend of soul-searching for Les Bleus.
The outcome could have been very different had Laurent Koscielny opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
The Arsenal centre-back connected powerfully with Jeremy Menez's corner but his accuracy left much to be desired.
Etienne Capoue soon met a second Menez corner but this time Kawashima got a feel of the ball, before Mike Havenaar tested Hugo Lloris at the other end.
The partisan crowd were out of their seats when Karim Benzema stole onto Mathieu Debuchy's ball, the Real Madrid man beating his man only to volley just wide.
And it was Benzema who got the ball rolling for France's best chance of the first half.
Kawashima may have been equal to the striker's swerving free-kick but the Japan keeper was left stranded as Koscielny rose to head the ensuing corner over the crossbar.
France should have been out of sight by the break, but it was not until the 57th minute that they threatened again, Olivier Giroud unable to make the most of an easy header at the far post.
Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa sought to catch Les Bleus unawares but Lloris scrambled across his area to catch his long-range drive.
Japan enjoyed a purple patch and Hideto Takahashi might have earned a shock lead in St-Denis had he kept his effort down.
Giroud pinged the ball harmlessly past a post as the stands began to empty at the Stade de France.
Those who remained in their seats cheered as substitute Bafetimbi Gomis rattled an overhead kick into the back of the net, only for their frustration to return at the sight of the offside flag.
France's defence proved they were still alert, though, as Mamadou Sakho nullified Takashi Inui's dangerous delivery to the far post, with Havenaar lurking on the goal-line.
But Japan always knew that a result was up for grabs in Paris, and they were proved right two minutes from time.
Kagawa led the charge, interchanging quick passes with Yuto Nagatomo and Hiroshi Kiyotake, the latter feeding Konno to tap home and stun France.