Scotland suffer second straight Women’s World Cup defeat against Japan
Shelley Kerr’s side went 2-0 down in the first half before pulling a goal back in the closing stages.
Scotland suffered a second defeat in Group D at the Women’s World Cup as they were beaten 2-1 by Japan in Rennes.
Just as in their loss to England in their opener five days earlier, Shelley Kerr’s side went 2-0 down in the first half before pulling a goal back in the closing stages of the game.
Japan took the lead in the 23rd minute at Roazhon Park via a Mana Iwabuchi strike, and their advantage was extended in the 37th by a penalty won and converted by Yuika Sugasawa.
Scotland may well view the decision to award the spot-kick as harsh and they subsequently had two penalty appeals turned down after the break, and hit the post through Erin Cuthbert, before substitute Lana Clelland’s fine strike made it 2-1 with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Kerr’s team need to beat Argentina in their final group game on Wednesday to have any chance of progressing into the last 16.
This was another case of Scotland – who are at their first Women’s World Cup finals – delivering a performance that significantly improved after the break.
The first half was all about Japan, the 2011 winners and 2015 runners-up who had been held by Argentina 0-0 in their opening game in France.
Japan registered the first effort on goal in the seventh minute when Emi Nakajima volleyed wide, and after Hayley Lauder’s tame attempt at the other end, Iwabuchi had a shot saved by Lee Alexander.
Seven minutes later Iwabuchi put her side in front as a misjudgement by Scotland captain Rachel Corsie was punished.
The defender’s header was picked up by Jun Endo and she laid it to Iwabuchi, who fired a shot over Alexander and in from just outside the box.
Japan continued to apply pressure and it required a goal-line clearance by Kim Little to keep out a Saki Kumagai header, before Sugasawa put the ball wide as she met a corner.
Sugasawa then took centre-stage as Japan’s advantage was doubled.
The forward went to ground in the area when Corsie put her hand on her shoulder, and while the incident appeared debatable, referee Lidya Tafesse Abebe deemed it was a foul, and Sugasawa slotted the resulting spot-kick into the bottom corner.
After Scotland’s response saw Cuthbert send an effort on to the roof of the net, it was then nearly 3-0 in first-half stoppage time, with Hina Sugita hitting the bar.
Caroline Weir saw a shot dealt with by goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita six minutes into the second half, before Alexander produced a superb diving save to turn a Nakajima shot behind.
Scotland almost had a goal in the 78th minute when Cuthbert’s strike hit the upright, and the Chelsea forward then had two claims for penalties turned down in quick succession, one when she went down and the other when she sent the ball against Risa Shimizu’s arm.
Four minutes later Clelland cracked a fine shot past Yamashita, but Scotland were unable to save themselves in the few minutes remaining after that, while Alexander produced another good save to deny Sugita.