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There's no late drama for Scotland as they slip to back-to-back defeats. For the majority they didn't deserve anything from this as Iwabuchi and Sugasawa gave them the run around. However, the last 20 minutes saw a dramatic improvement but their goal from Clelland came too late in the day. Boss Shelly Kerr may have to something to say about a couple of penalty calls that got turned down and didn't get overturned by VAR.
The next game Shelley Kerr is talking about is against Argentina on Wednesday. We'll have a clearer idea of what's required nearer kick off time in Paris, so join us for that one. It should be a cracker. However, I probably should point out that if Argentina were to pull off a major shock and beat England later tonight, Scotland are out.
Japan, the winners eight years ago and runners-up in 2015, got over their jitters from the opening stalemate with Argentina to put in a composed performance and remind everyone of their class.
A team capable of brilliance, a team capable of complete disappointment. Sometimes it’s hard to know if that statement applies to Japan or Scotland, but as Japan have a World Cup to their name, let’s say it’s them.
If Japan have had one problem at tournaments it is a lack of ruthlessness, matches dominated but won with a slender advantage. However Scotland’s problem seems to be that they save their best football for friendlies and qualifying matches.
Under the might of Japan’s press, Scotland were restricted and contorted, left to look for answers where there were none. A technically proficient team, their opponents did not have to be stronger, just savvier as they were in 2011.
Japan’s manager, Asako Takakura, said there is still “room to improve”. This performance was marked better than their draw with Argentina simply because they had to step up. “We’ve learned how hard it is to win a match at a World Cup and our levels have come up,” she added.
“Scotland have moved beyond sitting behind the ball,” Kerr said. “I’m not a manager who parks the bus. We have a style and a philosophy.” Trying to sit and defend did not work for Scotland, trying to launch an attack did not work for them either. The cogs were out of line, passes went astray. There was no shield for the backline and Japan turned the screw aplenty. Thirteen places behind the Japanese in the world rankings at kick-off, the gulf only seemed to widen with each first-half minute.
A “terrific” second half in which Shelley Kerr’s Scotland scored what could yet be a vital goal and “finished strongly” was not enough as they slipped to a second World Cup defeat within five days of their first against England .
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