Paris: Japan were denied a first-up win by Argentina, who earned a goalless draw in their opening FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 fixture at Parc des Princes on Monday.
Despite fielding eight players making their tournament debut, Japan were considered strong favourites to win the tie, but a resolute Argentinian defence helped Carlos Borrello’s side to their first ever World Cup point.
Argentina only had heavy defeats to show for in their two previous appearances in the tournament, but they began with the appearance of an entirely different proposition to the side that conceded 18 goals in three matches at their most recent World Cup in 2007, providing a stern resistance to Japan’s attempts to create going forward.
An early raid from Emi Nakajima, followed by a headed effort from Yuika Sugasawa, gave the impression of impending Japanese dominance, but it didn’t come to fruition in the first half, with the organised South Americans able to comfortably repel to the Asian champions.
Japan’s passing supremacy – which yielded 61 percent of first half possession – remained consistent throughout the opening 45 minutes, but it didn’t translate to goalmouth action, as Asako Takakura’s side produced only two shots, neither of them on target, before the interval.
Kumi Yokoyama looked to raise the tempo early in the second half, and stung Vanina Correa’s palms with a long-range short, before Yui Hasegawa missed a gilt-edge chance in the 56th minute, scuffing an effort wide from just eight yards.
It appeared that Japan's chances would begin to flow more regularly, but despite the introduction of Mana Iwabuchi, the 2011 champions continued to struggle to find a way past Argentina, who produced a rare effort on goal of their own through Florencia Bonsegundo with 20 minutes remaining.
A late Hasegawa effort was one of the few moments of danger for the Argentines, who celebrated an unexpected result, and one which makes Japan’s remaining fixtures against England and Scotland all the more important.
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