Japan pick up their first win of the tournament as Scotland suffer their second consecutive loss. Same old demons for Scotland as they concede two first half goals and score a late consolation – deja vu.
The game started in a quite a cool, calm manner as both sides tried to settle into a rhythm. It was Japan who made the first move as they started causing all sorts of problems for the Scottish defence, Rachel Corsie in particular. The first goal came when she gave the ball away at the edge of her own box, before the ball was played into Mana Iwabuchi – she controlled it and lashed a venomous effort over the top of Lee Alexander and into the net.
Scotland would have been feeling that sense of deja vu already, even more so when in the 36th minute, the referee gave Japan a penalty. Again, it was Rachel Corsie at fault as she put her hand on the shoulder of Yuika Sugasawa and pulled her down in the area. There wasn’t a whole lot of contact, but enough to initiate a foul and the ref pointed straight to the spot. Sugasawa stepped up and sent Alexander the wrong way.
The second half started in the same way the first did, with Japan in the ascendancy. It took the introduction of Claire Emslie off the bench for Scotland to kick into gear. They started attacking and to be fair to them, they were causing issues. Shelley Kerr’s team could have had a penalty of their own when Erin Cuthbert tried to control the ball and it hit the arm of Risa Shimizu. No penalty, and absurdly, not even a VAR investigation.
Scotland did eventually get their goal but it was a case of too little, too late. The goal came when Lana Clelland latched onto a loose defensive pass and unleashed a world class strike into the top corner. With just two minutes left on the clock, there wasn’t enough time to find an equaliser and Scotland lost again.
Scotland need to learn to turn up in both halves of a game. In the first half on Sunday against England, they offered very little offensively – the same thing happened here today. On Sunday, they turned up and played very well against England in the second period – one again, they did the same thing here this afternoon.
One thing is for certain, their last game against Argentina is a must win if they want to qualify for the KO rounds. For Japan, they jump to the top of the group – at least until England play at 8pm tonight.