NAGANO – Substitutes Emi Nakajima and Mina Tanaka were on target to give former women’s world champion Japan a 2-0 win at home to Switzerland in an international friendly on Sunday.
Nakajima broke the deadlock midway through the second half in torrential rain at Nagano U Stadium before Tanaka rounded off the win with virtually the last kick of the game.
“We weren’t really able to up the tempo and play our aggressive style of attacking soccer but I am happy we won the game,” said Japan coach Asako Takakura.
“The Swiss are physically stronger than we are, and that is something we needed to be mindful of, but the players showed fight and it was a good performance.”
Chances were few and far between in the first half, but Japan went close to taking the lead when Madoka Haji had a deflected shot saved by Gaelle Thalmann.
Switzerland’s best opportunity came on 36 minutes, Eseosa Aigbogun finding space on the right side of the penalty area but blazing her shot off target.
Japan finally went in front in the 69th minute. Nakajima had her initial shot parried by substitute goalkeeper Seraina Friedli after being set up by Haji, but the INAC Kobe Leonessa midfielder reacted quickest to snap up the loose ball and steer home.
“It was a good ball from Haji and I would have liked to score with my first shot but I am glad the goal led to the win,” Nakajima said.
Tanaka sealed the victory in the third minute of stoppage time, racing through to plant a shot into the bottom corner from a tight angle.
“I am glad my goal was able to help the team after coming off the bench,” said Tanaka. “It was difficult coming on in the middle of the game, but I tried to keep things simple.”
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