SEOUL – Japan launched its bid for a third consecutive championship with a methodical 2-0 victory over China in the opening match of the Women’s East Asian Cup on Saturday.
Frankfurt midfielder Kozue Ando netted late in the first half and INAC Kobe’s Emi Nakajima doubled the lead on the other side of halftime for the world champions.
New Chelsea signing Yuki Ogimi set up both goals for Norio Sasaki’s side, which faces North Korea next on Thursday. Japan and China meet again in the men’s competition on Sunday.
“Our opponents today intended to sit back and I thought we read them well,” Sasaki said. “We didn’t back down from a single challenge and I’m happy with our effort, especially in this heat.”
Ando opened the scoring in the 37th minute as China began slowing down after unsuccessfully trying to blitz Nadeshiko Japan from the kickoff.
Ogimi put Ando through down the inside right channel before Ando struck on her first touch from just inside the box for her 18th international goal in 114 appearances.
Japan was in cruise control during the second half and all but ended the game after 59 minutes, when Nakajima opened her national team account.
Ogimi again played creator, drawing the defense to lay off the ball for Nakajima, who cut across the penalty area and hit the back of the net with authority.
“I’m glad I could make the most of my teammates,” Ogimi said.