PARCHAL, PORTUGAL – Japan rebounded from an opening-day loss to defeat Iceland 2-1 on Friday in their second Algarve Cup Group C match.
Japan midfielder Rumi Utsugi converted a cross from Emi Nakajima for the eventual game-winner in the 85th minute, giving Asako Takakura’s side the much-needed three points before its showdown with Denmark on Monday.
Yuika Sugasawa gave Japan the lead with a goal in the 15th minute and the reigning Asian champion appeared to be on course for a victory, but Iceland’s Hlin Eiriksdottir came up with an equalizer in the 74th minute.
But in this match, Japan, with a significantly different starting lineup than the one that lost to the Netherlands 6-2 on Wednesday, refused to give in and claimed the win at Complexo Desportivo Belavista.
“I’m relieved we pulled away for victory but we need to work a lot more on our attack,” Takakura said.
“I want us to become a team that delivers high quality no matter who’s in the game so I want the players to compete (among themselves) for playing time.”
Japan is playing in Group C along with the Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark. In the 12-team tournament, the top two group winners advance to the final.