Albiceleste hold Japan to scoreless draw, earning first ever point at Women's World Cup
Argentina delivered a solid, hard-working performance in their opener at the Women's World Cup this afternoon, holding former champions Japan to a 0-0 draw to earn its first ever point at the tournament.
The Albiceleste delivered a solid, hard-working performance in their opener at the Women's World Cup this afternoon, holding former champions Japan to a 0-0 draw to earn its first ever point at the tournament.
Japan, finalists in 2015 and winners in 2011, enjoyed almost two-thirds of possession, but only forced two saves from goalkeeper Vanina Correa.
Argentina had lost all its previous six World Cup matches in 2003 and 2007, and missed the 2011 and 2015 tournaments. The Albiceleste had been outscored 33-2 in the six previous World Cup matches, prior to Monday's opener against Japan.
The light-blue-and-whites offered little threat in front of goal, having just three tame efforts, but the team remained compact and tough, giving Japan little chance to break them down.
For example, Japan took until the 50th minute to test goalkeeper Vanina Correa, who stopped forward Kumi Yokoyama's low shot from about 35 yards out. Minutes later Japan midfielder Yui Hasegawa botched a good chance, swiping left of the goal from close range after a cross from the right.
Correa then palmed away a low cross from the right in the last minute. She was hugged and mobbed by her teammates at the final whistle in thanks.
Japan has just one win in seven matches this year. The national team has lost twice with four draws, including Monday against the Albiceleste. Pre-tournament, they were tipped as one of the favourites to win the World Cup. In contrast, Argentina are around 500/1 to win the World Cup.
"We played a very smart match, with garra," saidAlbiceleste captain Estefanía Banini, who was crowned player of the match.
"We ran a lot. Japan is a world power, we had to remain concentrated," the Levante playmaker said, adding that Japan were a "superior" team.
"I hope we can inspire a lot, that we can start a new process, and that in a few years we will aspire to much more, to be equal with the world powers," she said, referring to the state of women's football in Argentina.
"[This result] is very important for us. We could reflect what Argentina is, and we know we have very strong teams to play next [England and Scotland], but we have to remain smart and compact," said Banini.
Albiceleste coach Carlos Borrello dedicated the point to "Argentine women's football."
"Thus point is for Argentine women's football and this is an incentive for Argentina to start growing," said the coach, who led Argentina's teams in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups