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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
England women denied win by Japan
England players stand dejected
England players were shattered by Japan's last-gasp equaliser
England were denied an opening Women's World Cup win as Japan stole a 2-2 draw with the last kick of the game.

Aya Miyama put Japan ahead with a free-kick before Kelly Smith turned the game on its head with two goals.

Smith held off two defenders to level, and England looked on course for victory in Shanghai as the Arsenal striker struck from close range.

But England were thwarted as Miyama struck with a second free-kick from an identical position deep in injury time.


Both teams started nervously in the first international between the two nations.

That was hardly surprising as the first priority was to maintain a firm footing on a pitch that cut up from the first whistle.

England's Eniola Aluko looked lively and pacy, while Japan's outlet was the Afro-haired Eriko Arakawa, who presented a physical threat.

While Japan preferred to build neatly, if not painstakingly, through midfield, England were happier to employ a more direct style to use the pace of Aluko, and the Chelsea youngster was played in by Smith, but instead of driving on, shot from distance to give the keeper and easy save.

Rachel Yankey beat the offside trap to drive in a cross which Smith was just beaten to at the near post by Yukari Kinga.

Japan keeper Miho Fukumoto confidently dealt with a couple of dangerous Karen Carney crosses but she presented England with a golden chance.

Fukumoto failed to make contact as she raced from her box to challenge Aluko for a through ball, leaving the England forward with an open goal but from a tight angle she failed to hit the target.

Japan grabbed a point in the dying seconds.
Japan celebrate their last-minute equaliser

The Japanese keeper redeemed her error as England began the second half strongly.

Fara Williams was played in but Fukumoto reacted brilliantly to plunge to her right and save her powerful shot.

There was some desperate defending as England searched for the opener and penned Japan into their own half.

Japan emerged from the siege to take the lead against the run of play.

Katie Chapman conceded a free-kick 23 yards out and the Japanese posted two players, on their knees in front of England's defensive wall.

Before the kick was taken they got to their feet and it had the desired effect as Miyama's shot passed through the wall and swerved away from the unsighted Rachel Brown.

England were denied an instant reply as Umi Utsugi bravely threw herself to block Smith's piledriver.

Fukumoto again denied England, standing strong to beat away Carney's shot, while Hiromi Isozaki cleared Aluko's cross-shot from under the bar.

Yankey missed a glorious chance to put England level but she somehow headed Carney's cross wide from four yards out.

England got a deserved equaliser when Smith showed great presence, technique and strength to hold off two defenders and slot the ball home from 12 yards.

England sensed the momentum was with them and Smith scored what looked to be the winner when she drove in on goal, and although her first effort was saved by Fukumoto, she retained her composure to retrieve the loose ball and score.

But England's celebrations were cut short, when Japan were awarded a free-kick from an identical position and range to where Miyama scored the first.

She again obliged by dipping her shot over the England wall, with what proved to be the last kick of the game.

Japan: Fukumoto, Isozaki (Nagasato, 86), Kinga (Ando, 45), Miyamoto (Hara, 70), Sakai, Arakawa, Sawa. Iwashimizu, Miyama, Ohno, Utsugi.

England: Brown, Scott (Johnson, 89), Stoney, Chapman, White, Phillip, Carney, Williams, Aluko (Scott, 74), Smith, Yankey.

Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)

Japan v England photos
11 Sep 07 |  Football


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