Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Japan break through late againist resolutr Argentina

AFP , SHANGHAI

Striker Yuki Nagasato scored an injury time goal to lift Japan to a 1-0 victory over Argentina and keep their World Cup hopes alive yesterday.

Japan had been held to a goalless stalemate for 90 minutes against the weakest team in Group A, who were hammered by a World Cup record 11-0 in their opening game against Germany.

The Japanese needed to win to stay in contention for a place in the next round after they drew 2-2 with England in their opener.

Argentina made four changes, including a replacement goalkeeper, and were a much improved side until the final stages when Japan moved up a gear.

The pressure resulted in a breakthrough when defender Yukari Kinga, a second-half substitute, found Nagasato in front of goal with the clock ticking down.

The 20-year-old striker made no mistake, slamming the ball past Argentine keeper Romino Ferro to keep Japan in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.

In the first half Japan looked the better team and almost scored in the third minute when defender Kozue Ando hit the bar with a shot from close range.

Japan had most of the possession and most of the action in front of goal in both halves but were dangerously exposed at the back when their defense pushed too far forward.

They missed Eriko Arakawa, their powerful striker who has a knee injury. The 26-year-old, who has scored 17 goals in 51 internationals, injured herself in the game against England.

Finally she was brought on by coach Hiroshi Ohashi in the 57th minute as Japan desperately tried to break down the Argentine defense.

However, Argentina almost went ahead in the 73rd minute when Fabiana Vallejos spotted the Japanese goalkeeper off her line and fired in a lofted shot from 40m.

Miho Fukumoto failed to collect the ball which bounced off the left post.

Argentina had earlier brought on two strikers as second half substitutes as they fought desperately to stay in the tournament.

But another defeat after their drubbing by Germany means that they are certain of an early exit from the tournament.

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