VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Aya Sameshima and Yuika Sugasawa were on target and defending champion Nadeshiko Japan withstood intense late pressure to secure a place in the second round at the Women’s World Cup on Friday with a 2-1 win over Cameroon in their second Group C match in Vancouver.
Sameshima and Sugasawa put Japan 2-0 up after 17 minutes, but Cameroon enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half and a late goal from Ajara Nchout set up a tense finish to the game.
Japan tops the group with six points, three ahead of Cameroon and Switzerland. Ecuador, Japan’s final group-stage opponent on Tuesday, is in last without a point.
“We made chances on both flanks early on and scored goals and that was the key, but we have to think a bit more about how to carry the game in the second half,” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki.
“We had a few scares at the end but we can reflect on this and try and do our best in our next game. We made a few simple mistakes with our passing today and we will try and make adjustments and take the next step.”
Sasaki made five changes to the side that started in Monday’s 1-0 win against the Swiss and two of them were involved in the opening goal as the Japanese took the lead after six minutes.
Nahomi Kawasumi found space on the right and whipped a cross into the box. Yuki Ogimi could not connect but Sameshima arrived at the back post to slide home.
“We did well to break (Cameroon) down on the right flank and I thought if I got a touch on the ball it would go in. I am glad I was able to score,” said Sameshima.
Sugasawa, also making her first start of the tournament along with Sameshima, Kawasumi, Yukari Kinga and goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, then made it 2-0 following a short corner routine.
Kawasumi sent a return pass to Aya Miyama, and Japan’s captain lofted an inswinging cross in for Sugasawa to head home at the far post.
“We were able to score from open play and from a set piece and it was good that we were able to limit (Cameroon) to one goal,” said Miyama.
“We allowed our opponents to show their strengths as the game wore on and there are a lot things that we need to work on but we will take positives from that and try and get prepared for our next game. We want to go through as winners from our group and the important thing is to pull together as one.”
Cameroon, a 6-0 winner in its opener against Ecuador was not without chances of its own, however, and Gaelle Enganamouit tested Kaihori at her near post in the 22nd minute before Madeleine Ngono Mani scuffed a great chance wide from point-blank range late in the first half.
Cameroon continued to press in the second half and Gabrielle Onguene shot just wide after a goalmouth scramble in the 71st minute, before Nchout pulled one back late in the last minute.
In the other Group C match, Fabienne Humm and Ramona Bachmann both scored hat tricks as Switzerland bounced back from its opening defeat to hammer Ecuador 10-1.
The Swiss were helped by two own goals from Ecuador defender Angie Ponce, who also scored for her own team from the penalty spot.
The scoreline equaled the most goals in a match, matching the tally set in 2007 when Germany trounced Argentina 11-0.
In Group D, Kyah Simon had two goals to help Australia beat Nigeria 2-0 and pick up its first three points, while the United States and Sweden played to a 0-0 draw.