Nadeshiko Japan gets a step closer to the knockout stage with a 2-1 victory over Scotland at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019
15 June 2019
On Friday 14 June, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team) played their second group stage match of the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 against the Scotland Women’s National Team.
Although the weather was unstable throughout the week in Rennes, the match day was welcomed by clear skies from the morning.
With coach TAKAKURA Asako sending off her players by telling them, “This is a match we cannot afford to lose, so let’s play aggressively,” led by their two forwards, SUGASAWA Yuika and IWABUCHI Mana, the team applied aggressive pressure from the front line to take the initiative of the match.
While Japan anticipated for their opportunities from their quick ball movements, Scotland sought for their chances by utilising the long balls to initiate counter attacks. With SUGITA Hina and MIURA Narumi effectively playing the role to fill in the gap between the defence line and the attacking third, SAMESHIMA Aya and SHIMIZU Risa positioned themselves high in the flanks to apply pressure to the Scotland defence. Sugasawa became their main target upfront while Iwabuchi collected the loose balls to penetrate the penalty area.
The opening goal came in the 23rd minute, when Sugita delivered a pass towards the box, allowing ENDO Jun to collect the loose ball before connecting the ball to Iwabuchi. The shot taken by Iwabuchi from the edge of the box pierced the net to give Japan a 1-0 lead.
With momentum on their side, Japan continued to threaten the Scottish goal and their second goal came in the 37th minute when Sugasawa responded to a long feed delivered by Shimizu. As the Japanese striker made her way into the penalty box, she was brought down by the opposing defender to earn a penalty kick. Sugasawa converted the spot kick herself to double the lead for Japan. Despite seeing more close opportunities created by Japan, the match entered halftime with a score of 2-0.
Japan continued to show high intensity in the second half, as they quickly collected the ball from their defence line to possess the ball deep in the opposing territory. While Scotland started to display signs of fatigue, they still showcased sharp counter attacks that left the Japanese defenders uneasy.
In the 66th minute, Japan utilised their first substitution by bringing in KOBAYASHI Rikako for Endo. With this move, Iwabuchi shifted her position to the left side, while Kobayashi played upfront with Sugasawa. Soon after being introduced to the match, Kobayashi came close to scoring a goal, followed by a shot taken by Sameshima, but their attempt was blocked by the goalkeeper.
In efforts to change the dynamics of the game, HASEGAWA Yui was brought in for Iwabuchi in the 81st minute, but the score-line remained the same for Japan. In the 88th minute, Scotland capitalised on a passing error committed by Japan, scoring with a terrific shot taken from distance to cut down their deficit in half.
However, the time ran out for Scotland to make their come back, as Japan took down the match with a final score of 2-1, giving the Nadeshiko Japan their much needed three points.
On the same day, the other match of Group D was played between England and Argentina, where England captured a 1-0 victory to secure their spot into the round of 16.
Japan and England will now play for the group lead on Wednesday 19 at 21:00 local time (Thursday 20 at 4:00 Japan time).
FW #9 SUGASAWA Yuika (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies)
As the starting forward, I am glad I was able to score a goal in the first half to give momentum for the team. When I scored the goal, I was simply happy. I feel like the entire team was committed in our attacks in the first half. Despite this match being played late at night, I am thankful for all the supporters watching our match.
FW #8 IWABUCHI Mana (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
I am just relieved that we managed to win the match. It felt like the team’s will power carried the ball towards the right direction, so that was a goal scored by the entire team. We were given the opportunity to talk as a team and strengthen our bond yesterday, and I think that has contributed to this victory. We must reset our minds and start to get prepared ahead of our next match. We will face a different challenge against England, and the rankings of the group stage can certainly change the dynamics of the future stage, so we hope to win the match against England to make our ways into the next round.
DF #5 ICHISE Nana (Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies)
I am very relieved that we won the match, especially after troubling the team with my mistake at the end. Today’s opponent didn’t make much runs into the space behind us, but rather kept he ball at their feet, so I was able to showcase my strengths to make physical contact and forcing turnovers. We allowed our opponents to take control of the match towards the end of the second half, because we weren’t forcing turnovers when we had to, and we were positioning ourselves a bit too far from each other. However, we still managed to stop the opponents at the final line, so we hope to continue to showcase a solid defence in our future matches.
FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019
Tournament Dates: Fri. 7 June - Sun. 7 July 2019
Tue. 11 June 2019 01:00 (Japan time)
vs Argentina Women's National Team
Fri. 14 June 2019 22:00 (Japan time)
vs Scotland Women's National Team
Thu. 20 June 2019 04:00 (Japan time)
vs England Women's National Team
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