Nadeshiko, England play to draw

Kyodo

Nahomi Kawasumi scored a second-half equalizer as women’s world champion Japan drew 1-1 away to England in a friendly on Wednesday.

England took the lead through Eniola Aluko shortly before the break, but Kawasumi earned Japan a share of the spoils with a well-taken finish 14 minutes from time.

It was Japan’s second 1-1 draw in a row after being held at home to New Zealand last week.

“I think we were able to some extent to play our game in the first half,” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki, whose team suffered its only defeat of the tournament to England during its sensational run to the title at the 2011 World Cup finals in Germany.

“We had good spells and bad spells, but the players did their best,” he said.

Kozue Ando missed a glorious chance to connect with a Yuki Ogimi cross and put Japan in front on 12 minutes, and Arsenal Ladies striker Ellen White nearly punished that miss with a half-volley that flashed across the face of Ayumi Kaihori’s goal.

England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was not seriously tested by the Japanese early on but she got down smartly to deal with an Ogimi free kick on 32 minutes.

Japan made a number of second-half substitutions but never really looked like finding a way back into the game until some fine approach play from Shinobu Ono set up Kawasumi to steer in the equalizer.

Emi Nakajima nearly snatched victory for Japan in the late stages with a shot that came back off the woodwork.

“We have to look at the way we conceded but I think we can build on the way we performed today,” said Kawasumi.

Sasaki’s team wraps up its tour of Europe against Germany on Saturday.