Soccer: Osako heats up for World Cup qualifiers with goal, assist

SPORTS

Japan international Yuya Osako will head to the World Cup qualifiers on a high after scoring and assisting in Cologne's 4-2 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Osako set the hosts on their way in the sixth minute with a thunderous strike off the palm of Rune Jarstein from almost 30 meters out, the former Kashima Antlers man's sixth for Cologne this season.

In the 35th minute, Osako set up his strike-partner Anthony Modeste with a low cross from the left to lift his side to a 2-0 lead. Cologne scored once more before the break to open up a three-goal advantage heading into the second half.

Osako's performance helped Cologne end a five-game winless skid.

"I tried to hit it as hard as I could," he said. "I thought it was a nice goal. When you want to turn the tide, someone has to step up to make an exceptional play or sacrifice himself for the team."

Osako hopes to do more of the same for his country, starting Thursday against the United Arab Emirates in Al Ain followed by the Thailand game at Saitama on March 28.

"It's a different competition. My role will be different from what I do here and results count for everything," he said.

==Kyodo

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