Women’s World Cup Correspondent
Last night, 2011 edition winners Japan revived their chances of qualifying for the Big 16 Round after winning against Scotland 2-1 in Rennes.
Nadeshiko coach Asako Takakura made a little change from the line-up, bringing on the best player of the Asian Cup, Mana Iwabuchi, and Jun Endo to replace Kumi Yokoyama and Yui Hasegawa as the striker and left midfielder in their 4-4-2 formation. On the other hand, Scotland took an offensive approach, with some new faces like West Ham striker Jane Ross paired with young star Erin Cuthbert.
Mana Iwabuchi scored Nadeshiko’s first goal of the tournament after 23rd minutes. Mana, who once played for Bayern Munich, sent a high shot from outside of the penalty box that couldn’t be reached by goalkeeper Lee Alexander.
Seven minutes later, Japan got another chance after the veteran captain, Saki Kumagai, headed the ball through to the empty net, but luckily Kim Little saves the day with heading back the ball before it crossed the goal line.
The Asian side hit their second as Yuika Sugasawa was knocked down by Rachel Corsie in the penalty box. Sugasawa then scored her 19th international goal after executing the penalty perfectly and let Japan lead 2-0 by half-time.
Japan did not look satisfied with those two goals and kept the pressure on as Emi Nakajima got a chance at the 58th minutes when she ran down the right wing and blasted the long ball from outside of the box which was saved by Alexander. Scotland finally got the close the gap two minutes from time after substitute Lana Clelland found the goal, but it proved to be a mere consolation for Scotland.
Other Match Results
While in the other match, Italy continued their magnificent performances after earning a big win over debutants Jamaica. The Azzurri scored 5 goals into Jamaica’s net, guarded by the young goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who blocked a penalty from Barcelona midfielder Andressa Alves in the last match.
Sydney made a heroic penalty save again at the beginning of the match as Barbara Bonansea was brought in the penalty box after 10 minutes. She guessed Cristiana Girelli’s shot and blocked it, but the penalty was retaken because referee Anna-Marie Keighley said that Sydney fouled by moving off her goal line. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stop the second attempt and the Azzurri took the lead.
The 29 years old striker from Juventus then completed her a hat trick, scoring her first from a corner kick scheme in the 25th minute and converting a perfect cross from Manuela Giugliano from the right side early on in the second half. Another two of Azzurre’s goals were scored by substitute Aurora Galli. The young Juventus midfielder scored a beautiful goal from outside of the box on the 71st minute and a low shoot inside of the penalty box after tricked Sydney ten minutes later.
In Le Harve, the Lionesses booked their ticket to Big 16 Round after narrowly winning 1-0 against Argentina. Despite the loss, praise has been heaped on La Albiceleste after they held Japan to a draw and made England’s attackers incredibly frustrated with their defensive approach. Phil Neville made some changes to England’s line-up, such as Chelsea’s goalkeeper Carly Telford, Reading’s midfielder Jade Moore, and veteran striker Jodie Taylor.
For Argentina, Adriana Sachs came on for Virginia Gomez at right back, and the rest of the team remained unchanged. Carlos Borrello’s tactic looked good as they managed to hold England goalless during the first half. Nikita Parris had a good chance to score from a penalty kick after Beth Mead was knocked down by Ruth Bravo, but veteran goalkeeper Vanina Correa managed to deny her.
After making seven shots on target, Jordie Taylor’s goal in the 62nd minute finally registered. She perfectly converted the low through cross from Beth Mead on the left side. This was the second win for England against Argentina, as the two sides met in 2007 and the Lionesses bagged a 6-1. Yesterday’s result shoes the good progression and rapid development in Argentinian women’s football.
The last Asian representative, Thailand, will face Sweden on Sunday night. We’re hoping for a better result for the Chabakaew after being defeated by 13 goals against the reigning champions, the United States, who will play against Chile on the same day.
In the meantime, on Saturday night the Queens of European, Netherlands, will take a challenge from African representative Cameroon, Canada meet New Zealand.