Japan qualifies for World Cup

Kyodo

Japan secured a berth at the Women’s World Cup on Saturday despite a 2-1 defeat away to Mexico in the second leg of a playoff for this September’s finals in China.

Eriko Arakawa’s crucial strike gave Japan a 3-2 aggregate win and ensured the women’s national team extended its proud record of qualifying for every Women’s World Cup since the inaugural event in China in 1991.

Japan took a two-goal cushion to Mexico following last week’s 2-0 victory in the first leg in Tokyo and the fuzzy-haired Arakawa made it 3-0 overall when she picked up Rumi Utsugi’s free-kick and swept home the opener in the 13th minute.

Mexico hit back through goals from Fatima Leyva and Maribel Dominguez but Japan held firm in the face of intense pressure to book its ticket to China.