NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Japan defeated Brazil 3-1 in the SheBelieves Cup on Saturday, and next face a showdown against England in a match that could determine who wins the tournament, which is being used as a warmup for the Women’s World Cup.
Rikako Kobayashi put Japan ahead in the 81st minute at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Making only her second appearance for the world’s eighth-ranked team, Kobayashi headed home a cross from Yuka Momiki, who had opened the scoring in the first half.
Momiki assisted again four minutes later, feeding Yui Hasegawa from outside the area. Hasegawa cut inside and netted at the near post.
Japan was pressured by 10th-ranked Brazil from the outset, but Momiki put Japan in the lead right before halftime.
Debinha then equalized in the 57th minute.
Fourth-ranked England later drew 2-2 with the United States.
The results put Japan on top of the four-team league with four points, ahead of England on goal difference, with the United States, the world No. 1, in third place with two points. Which makes Tuesday’s clash between England and Japan a likely title decider.
“We were pushed back throughout the match, but we were able to win this,” Japan manager Asako Takakura said. “But I think each match we play clearly shows us what we have to improve. There are still things we can do.”
The SheBelieves Cup is a round-robin tournament featuring four of the top 10 teams, and is a warmup for the Women’s World Cup, which begins June 7, in France.