Canada downs Japan in teams’ Algarve Cup final


Japan drew a blank as it lost to fifth-ranked Canada in the teams’ final Algarve Cup match Wednesday, finishing sixth in the 12-team invitational women’s soccer tournament in Portugal.

An early first-half goal by Janine Beckie and Ashley Lawrence’s solo effort in the 50th minute lifted Canada to a 2-0 victory over the former Women’s World Cup champion in the playoff for fifth place, giving Canada its third win in four matches.

The championship game between Sweden and the Netherlands was canceled due to heavy rain, with both teams awarded first place.

“It’s too bad we were hardly able to take shots,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said.

“I cannot deny there’s a gap between us and (the rest of) the world in terms of physical strength and speed. We need to be more strategic with our ball passing and improve team coordination.”

Japan, currently ranked ninth in the world, had a chance to salvage some pride when it was awarded a penalty kick shortly before the final whistle, but Mina Tanaka’s shot was saved by Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe with her leg.

After dropping the opener against the Netherlands and winning the next two against Iceland and Denmark, Takakura’s side ended the annual international tournament on a sour note with communication breakdown leading to costly mistakes.

Japan plays a friendly against Ghana in Nagasaki Prefecture on April 1 ahead of the April 6-20 Asian Cup in Jordan.