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England 1 (Aluko 40)
Japan 1 (Kawasumi 76)
att: 5,327; at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
England came close to beating the World Champions but were denied victory by a second half equaliser in an entertaining clash at Burton, their last home game before the Euro 2013 Finals.
Hope Powell opted not to risk any of her players who had been carrying injuries but sprang one surprise as she fielded Alex Scott in the left back position, with Dunia Susi starting on the right. Rachel Yankey, on the occasion of her record breaking 126th cap, wore the captain's armband.
England started brightly and were almost gifted an early goal when Kana Osafune played a wayward back pass which went past her keeper but, to the visitors' relief, wide of the goal. Minutes later though, Japan produced their first threat as Nahomi Kawasumi slipped a pass into Shinobu Ohno whose low shot was saved by Karen Bardsley.
Japan should have gone ahead on the twelve minute mark though as Kawasumi and Ohno combined to release Yuki Ogimi on the left, she whipped in a low cross but Kozue Ando failed to connect with her shot in front of goal.
Five minutes later and it was England's turn to pass up a good chance. After Japan had given the ball away, Eniola Aluko clipped a good pass over the top and into the path of Ellen White but she fired wide with only Ayumi Kaihori to beat.
Aluko then picked up a clearance and drove at the Japanese defence who backed off as she carried the ball forward. Aluko tried her luck from 25 yards with a defected shot which hit the side netting. Japan immediately counter attacked from the resulting corner with Kawasumi sliding a neat pass to Ohno in the area but Laura Bassett made a superb saving tackle as she looked poised to score.
Ohno wastefully shot wide from inside the area after being set up by Ogimi and Mizuho Sakaguchi found Kawasumi who also sent her effort off target as Japan continued to look dangerous going forward.
Bardsley did well to hold a well struck free kick by Ogimi but England had another good chance at the other end shortly afterwards when Ellen White laid the ball back to Aluko whose shot was wide of the far post.
A goal had looked inevitable for some time and it was England who supplied it after a fine move. Aluko initially won the ball on the right and gave it to Jill Scott who found Yankey in space on the left, she played an inch perfect pass into the path of Aluko who buried her shot into the corner of the net.
Sakaguchi headed wide from a corner at the other end but there was no more threat to England's lead going into the interval.
The second half started more quietly but after an early period of Japanese possession, it was England who had the chance to go two up when Aluko released Anita Asante on goal with a chipped pass but the midfielder failed to hit the target and dragged her shot wide. White then sent a snap shot over the bar from Aluko's cross after Japan had not fully cleared a corner.
England handed a senior debut to Lucy Bronze when she came on as substitute along with Jade Moore, who managed to pick up a yellow card within 90 seconds of coming on. The resulting free kick was deflected for a corner, from which Ogimi's flick was well saved at her near post by Bardsley.
Bronze was heavily involved in a good move down England's right which culminated in a cross by Jill Scott, Yankey executed a superb piece of control but could not get enough power in her shot and Kaihori saved comfortably.
However just as England were starting to look comfortable, a sloppy piece of play saw them give their lead away. Williams badly underhit a pass and Ohno seized possession and ran at the England defence before a perfectly timed pass gave Kawasumi the chance to slide the ball under Bardsley for the equaliser.
It could have been worse ten minutes from time when Ogimi played a dangerous pass over the head of Alex Scott for Emi Nakajima who tried her luck with a powerful angled shot which crashed off the post with Bardsley beaten. England hit back shortly after with Yankey feeding Alex Scott whose curling shot was narrowly over.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, England were awarded a free kick of the left. Yankey floated the ball into the area, where it was flicked on by a defender and Bronze stole in to sidefoot the ball home, however her celebrations were cut short by an offside flag against Jess Clarke, who had been on the goal line and interfering with play as the debutant had forced the ball in.
England: Karen Bardsley, Dunia Susi (sub Lucy Bronze 65mins), Alex Scott, Jill Scott (sub Jorda Nobbs 82mins), Sophie Bradley, Laura Bassett (sub Jade Moore 65mins), Eniola Aluko (sub Jess Clarke 82mins), Anita Asante, Ellen White (sub Toni Duggan 82mins), Fara Williams, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Rachel Brown-Finnis, Gemma Bonner, Karen Carney, Casey Stoney, Kelly Smith, Steph Houghton, Siobhan Chamberlain.
Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Saori Ariyoshi, Azusa Iwashimuzu, Kana Osafune (sub Asuna Tanaka 88mins), Rumi Utsugi (sub Megumi Kamionobe 63mins), Mizuho Sakaguchi, Saki Kumagai, Kozue Ando (sub Emi Nakajima 45mins), Nahomi Kawasumi (sub Mana Iwabuchi 84mins), Shinobu Ohno (sub Karina Maruyama 84mins), Yuki Ogimi. Subs not used: Miho Fukumoto.
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