Switzerland’s national football team has lost an international friendly against Japan 4-3, despite leading by two goals at halftime.
The defeat in Klagenfurt comes after a recent run of positive results, including a draw against Argentina, a win against the Netherlands, plus victory over Chile on Friday.
An injury-time strike by second-half substitute Kisho Yano sealed the win for Japan who also finished first in the four-nation friendly tournament organised by Switzerland’s Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria.
Switzerland led early on when Ludovic Magnin converted a free kick in the 11th minute. Blaise Nkufo added a penalty two minutes later, his first goal for the national side since 2002.
The Swiss team was far superior to the Japanese for the opening 45 minutes, building on its encouraging 2-1 win against Chile. This was despite being without injured captain Alexander Frei and right-back Philipp Degen on Tuesday. Striker Marco Streller had also been ruled out of the game because of a cold.
Playing in front of 19,500 spectators at Klagenfurt’s new Wörthersee stadium, Switzerland then let Japan – who were semi-finalists at the recent Asian Cup and considered by most observers to be the continent’s best team - off the hook shortly after the interval.
Shunsuke Nakamura pulled a goal back for the Japanese after striker Daisuke Matsui was fouled by Swiss defender Valon Behrami in the 52nd minute.
Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Matsui then missed good chances for Japan and Tranquillo Barnetta hit the bar for Switzerland, before Maki's header in the 68th minute tied the score at 2-2.
The Swiss defence continued to look leaky and ten minutes later Nakamura converted his second penalty after another foul by defender Behrami, who plays for Italian team Lazio.
Seiichiro Maki then put Japan ahead 3-2 in the 78th minute. But Swiss substitute Johan Djourou, currently playing for English club Birmingham City, equalised from a corner kick in the 79th minute, temporarily stopping the rot before Yano's dramatic winner.
After drawing 0-0 with Austria on Friday, Japan finished with four points, one better than Switzerland and Chile, who beat Austria 2-0 on Tuesday. Austria finished with one point.
A bit much
Swiss manager Köbi Kuhn described the match as interesting for the spectators, but too turbulent for his taste.
"It was an intense game but mistakes must have been made if you have such a score."
He said Switzerland had to learn their lesson and continue their preparations for Euro 2008.
He added that the ten-day training camp and the tournament in Austria would be important elements in the considerations of the team when the Swiss take stock next spring ahead of the European football championships.
Switzerland's next two games will be against Austria and the United States in a month's time at home.
swissinfo with agencies
15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in the four Swiss cities of Basel, Zurich, Geneva and Ber.
The 16 others will take place in Austria.
Switzerland will play the opening match of the tournament at Basel's St Jakob's Park on June 7, 2008. The final will be in Vienna on June 29.
Up to 5.4 million people are expected to travel to watch games at the four main stadiums and on big screens in Switzerland during the three-week tournament.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio, Valon Behrami, Steve von Bergen (Mario Eggimann, 87), Philippe Senderos, Ludovic Magnin (Tranquillo Barnetta, 46), Johan Vonlanthen (Stephan Lichtsteiner, 71), Benjamin Huggel (Fabio Celestini, 67), Xavier Margairaz (Hakan Yakin, 46), Christoph Spycher, Gokhan Inler (Johan Djourou, 79), Blaise Nkufo.
Japan: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, Akira Kaji, Yuji Nakazawa, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, Yuichi Komano, Shunsuke Nakamura (Kengo Nakamura), Keita Suzuki, Junichi Inamoto, Yasuhito Endo (Hisato Sato, 87), Daisuke Matsui (Satoru Yamageshi,70), Seiichiro Maki (Kisho Yano, 79).
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