PARCHAL, PORTUGAL – The Netherlands inflicted a crushing 6-2 defeat on Japan in their opening match Wednesday at the Algarve Cup, an invitational women’s soccer tournament.
The world’s seventh-ranked women’s team seemingly scored at will in the first half, registering four goals before midfielder Emi Nakajima finally pegged one back for Japan seven minutes before the break.
Lieke Martens led the scoring with a brace for the Dutch, opening the account in the fourth minute and netting their final goal seven minutes into the second half.
Lineth Beerensteyn, Siri Worm, Shanice van de Sanden and Stefanie van der Gragt also found the back of the net on a miserable evening for Japan ‘keeper Sakiko Ikeda.
Mana Iwabuchi scored eight minutes from the end of regulation to salvage a small measure of pride for ninth-ranked Japan, which is using the tournament to prepare for next month’s Asian Cup in Jordan.
Despite the severity of the loss, the team must focus on its next group match against Iceland on Friday, coach Asako Takakura said.
“We failed to respond to their direct attacking game and the goals piled up as a result. Even still, six goals are too many,” Takakura said.
“It’s a really bad loss but the team just has to get on with it.”
Japan has been drawn into Group C along with the Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark. The final for the 12-team tournament will be held March 7.