By HUXLEY LOVAI
SPAIN continued their winning run by stopping Japan 1-0 with a penalty shot from substitute Maria Caldentey at Bava Park yesterday.
The solo goal came toward the end of a hard-fought match between the teams, who had won their opening matches against Canada and Nigeria.
The teams played the game at a frantic pace, trying to unlock their opponent’s defence but Japan had a better share of possession and made early attempts at goal.
Japan’s midfielder Yui Hasegawa took her side’s best shot on goal in the 16th minute but it was cleared by the Spanish keeper Maria Quinones.
The Japanese defence was resolute, keeping and limited the chances of the Spaniards.
After a scoreless first-half, Japan picked up where they left off, dominating possession and spending long periods in the Spanish half.
Japan’s three-goal hero against Nigeria, forward Yuka Momiki, had a tougher outing this time as the Spaniards showed their grit in holding off the Japanese attack.
Unfortunately for Japan a penalty in the goal area for a hand ball by defender Hisui Haza handed Spain the golden opportunity to win the game.
Caldentey calmly blasted the ball past Japanese goalkeeper Chika Hirao to claim victory for Spain.
“It was a tough and competitive game, ” Japan’s coach Asako Takakura said.
He said they would change their approach in the final match in the group against Canada on Sunday.
“We were unable to match the physicality of Spain, but we will try to address other aspects of our game in the next match.”
By HUXLEY LOVAI