WUHAN, CHINA – Nadeshiko Japan’s hopes of winning the Women’s East Asian Cup ended with a 2-1 defeat to South Korea on Tuesday.
After a 4-2 opening game defeat against North Korea on Sunday, Japan took a first half-lead through Emi Nakajima, but Cho So-hyun equalized nine minutes into the second half and substitute Jeon Ga-eul snatched victory in injury time with a superb free kick to give South Korea a maximum six points from two games.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki is using this tournament to audition the next generation of Nadeshiko players and used only six members from the squad that finished runner-up at the Women’s World Cup in Canada last month.
“We are not putting the ball away late on but we are letting our opponents do that,” Sasaki said.
“But this is a good lesson for us. We conceded from a simple mistake and a set piece but the players tried their hardest.”
Sasaki made nine changes to the team the conceded two late goals in Sunday’s defeat.
Midfielder Hikaru Naomoto was one of those who got the call and she nearly responded with a goal, firing just over from the edge of the box on 18 minutes.
Striker Saori Arimachi then tried her luck before Japan took the lead on the half hour, Nakajima picking up a loose ball just outside the area, beating South Korea goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi with a low drive that took a deflection off Kwon Hah- nul on its way into the back of the net.
A Lee-min gave Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita her first real test with a shot on the turn after 50 minutes and the South Koreans leveled with a superb individual effort, Cho finishing off a surging run from inside the center circle with a low shot into the left-hand corner.
Hanae Shibata missed a great chance to level when she swung at and completely missed the ball after a flowing move in the 73rd minute. Mai Kyokawa then saw a decent effort flash wide and Japan was sunk two minutes into extra time when Jeon beat Yamashita with a sweetly struck set piece from around 20 meters out.
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