HALMSTAD, SWEDEN – Japan’s Olympic preparations took a hit as the women’s world champions had their three-game unbeaten streak against the United States snapped with a crushing 4-1 defeat at an exhibition tournament on Monday.
Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach both struck twice for the U.S. to give the Olympic champions their first win since losing to the Japanese on penalties in last year’s World Cup final in Germany and add to Saturday’s 3-1 win over hosts Sweden.
Japan wrap up the tournament against Sweden in Gothenburg on Wednesday.
“Our weak points have all been exposed but we still have time to fix them,” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki. “Unless we improve we won’t be able to live up to people’s expectations. I feel sorry to everyone for our poor performance but this provides us with an opportunity to put things right.”
The U.S. got off to a dream start and took the lead with just three minutes on the clock.
Japan afforded the Americans space on the left flank and Tobin Heath capitalized and sent through Morgan to beat Ayumi Kaihori with a blistering effort for her second goal in as many games against the Japanese.
Japan suffered another setback seven minutes later, Megan Rapinoe again punishing Sasaki’s side on the left side when she whipped in a cross for Wambach to get in front of Kyoko Yano and poke past Kaihori at her near post.
Japan, with FIFA World Women’s Player of the Year Homare Sawa back in action for the first time in around fourth months after a spell on the sidelines due to vertigo, had offered little going forward but Yuki Nagasato leveled on 26 minutes, the German-based striker diving in at the near post to head in Aya Miyama’s left-wing cross.