• Kyodo

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The Japan women’s soccer team made a losing start to the year with a 2-1 defeat to Spain in its opening match of the Algarve Cup on Wednesday.

Goals from Silvia Meseguer and Olga Garcia fired the Spaniards into a 2-0 lead before Kumi Yokoyama pulled one back for Japan with nine minutes left.

Nadeshiko Japan increased the pressure in the closing stages but was unable to find an equalizer.

“Overall I got the impression that we were a bit sluggish and our opponents were stronger on the ball,” said Japan coach Asako Takakura, who has yet to win in four games since taking over from Norio Sasaki. “It’s a disappointing result.”

Japan meets Iceland next in Group B on Friday before playing Norway on Monday.

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