Women’s World Cup Correspondent
Last night the heat of the competition was still high for Group D, as all four teams still had a chance to go through the next phase. England had the advantage, having already registered six points by winning both of their opening two matches.
The Lionesses were out for revenge, as they were beaten 2-1 by Japan at the semi-final stage back in 2015. England ex-international defender Laura Bassett scored an own goal in injury time that allowed Nadeshiko passage to the final, meanwhile England had to settle for third place.
Phil Neville experimented with his line-up, calling up some new faces like winger duo Toni Duggan and Rachel Daly. Meanwhile, Japan also made some changes, calling up Rikako Kobayashi and Kumi Yokoyama to replace Narumi Miura and Yuika Sugasawa from the latest match.
Nadeshiko opened the game with a serious threat in the 9th minute when Kumi Yokoyama drove a bullet shot from a free kick outside of the box, which was luckily saved by English number one, Karen Bardsley. However, their defense line made an error at the 14th minutes which England capitalized on, allowing veteran Ellen White to score an opener after getting a clever pass from her new clubmates after the World Cup campaign, Georgia Stanway.
Stanway also made another chance five minutes after as she blasted a long shot from outside of the box which was saved by Ayaka Yamashita. England managed to keep their lead until the half-time break.
Asako Takakura was keen to avoid defeat, as their place could be taken by Argentina, and as a result called Miura and Sugasawa from the bench. Sugasawa finally got a chance after receiving a perfect cross from Aya Sameshima on the left side in the 83rd minute, but her shot inside the penalty box just went over the bar.
Surprisingly, England managed to score a second just a minute later, with Ellen White netting her third of the tournament. Sugasawa had another chance before the game ended but once again Karen Bardsley managed to preserve England’s clean sheet and secure their passage as group leaders.
Argentina’s Unbelievable Comeback Leaves Them Hoping for Knockout Place
Meanwhile, in Paris, Scotland and Argentina played out a six-goal thriller as both sides were seeking for an important win that may take them to the knock-out stage for the first time.
La Albiceleste looked to continue their outstanding performances after hold Japan to a 0-0 and only conceding one goal against England. Scotland, the debutant, were hoping to spring a surprise of their own against their newly-fancied opposition. They took the lead in the 20th minutes after Arsenal midfielder, Kim Little got on the end of a rebound of Erin Cuthbert’s shoot and buried it into the opposition goal.
Scotland waited for the early minutes of the second half to double their lead with a perfect header from Jennifer Beattie which converted the cross from Lisa Evans on the right side in the 49th minute. Twenty minutes later, Scotland thought they had wrapped up the unlikely victory after Cuthbert hit the side’s third goal.
But football doesn’t end until the final whistle is blown, and that’s exactly happened on the last 15 minutes with an interesting process that we can imagine. Milagros Menendez, who came on from the bench replacing captain Estefania Banini, hit a long shoot outside of the box that couldn’t be reached by Lee Alexander at the 74th minutes. Lee did get her hand to the ball five minutes later, but Florencia Bosegundo’s shot was just too powerful, and it slipped out from her hands and into the net, which was ultimately noted as an own goal by the Scottish keeper. Bosegundo finally set her name at the scoreboard, netting a penalty in stoppage time to level the score and give Argentina a chance of qualifying for the next round.
The South American side will have their eyes firmly fixed on the last day of the group stage, needing results to go their way via the third-place rankings. La Albiceleste can still go through to the next round if both Cameroon and Chile play out draws against New Zealand and Thailand respectively.