Women’s U-20s beat United States in friendly
The Japan Under-20 women’s team beat the United States 1-0 in a friendly international match at Nagai Stadium in Osaka on Sunday.
Tanaka Yoko’s late goal sealed the win for Japan.
The game was part of Japan’s preparations for this summer’s FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which will be staged at five venues across Japan.
The young Nadeshiko played aggressively with Narumoto Hikaru setting the pace in the middle of the park.
In the 23rd minute, Nakada Ayu latched on to a Narumoto ball to hit from outside the box. Ten minutes later, forward Michigami Ayaka hit a Nakada cross wide at the near post before Tanaka hit a Yokoyama Kumi pass from the edge of the box a minute later.
After a scoreless first half, Japan found better form to increase their attacking force by shifting Tanaka behind forward Michigami.
The hosts came close in the 64th minute when Tanaka threatened the U.S. goal from mid-range, but U.S. goalkeeper Byane Heaberlin saved. In the 77th minute, Michigami hit wide after cutting inside.
The goal came for Japan in the 81st minute, after substitute forward Nishikawa Asuka hit from outside the box. The ball hit the U.S. goalkeeper before bouncing off the bar, and Tanaka dashed in to slot home from 10 meters.
The Americans, who were trying to use a passing game, rallied hard to threaten the Japanese goal with a series of good attempts late in the game, but Japan goalkeeper Ikeda Sakiko and her defence held firm.
“It was good that we won the game,” Japan coach Yoshida Hiroshi said. “But at the same time we found many things that we have to work on. We should take control of the game; that will help us take the initiative in games and make things easier.”
U.S. coach Steve Swanson said, “Japan deserved to win the game today. They moved the ball very well – very economic and very efficient. Before the game we knew they were very well-organized and are very good on the ball and I think we saw that today.
“Our team is still learning and progressing. I don’t think we are anywhere near to our potential yet. We are still trying things. We’ve come a long way and our team is making progress. Sometimes you need a game like this to push you forward.”
Japan and the United States will face each other again in a training game on Wednesday at J-Green National Training Center in Sakai, Osaka.