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Japan 1 (Miyama pen 29) Switzerland 0
World Champions Japan began their defence of the title with a hard fought 1-0 victory over debutants Switzerland in an entertaining match in Vancouver.
A somewhat generous penalty decision, tucked away by Aya Miyama, proved to be the difference between the two sides but Switzerland had a number of opportunities during in the second half, particularly for the gifted Ramona Bachmann. The game was also notable for the feat of Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa, who became the first player to appear in six different World Cup Finals.
The first half was tightly contested with Japan narrowly having the better of matters although Switzerland also showed good touches going forward. It was Switzerland who created the first opportunity when Lia Waelti carried the ball forward and slid a good pass into the path of Bachmann but Erina Yamane was on hand to save.
The big moment arrived just before half time. Yuki Ogimi flicked a good ball over the Swiss defence and into the path of Kozue Ando in the area. Gaelle Thalmann raced off her line and blocked her shot but also clattered into the striker. The challenge was deemed a reckless one and a penalty was awarded, Miyama coolly steering her shot into the corner of the net to give her side the lead.
Switzerland went close to an equaliser on the stroke of half time as Lara Dickenmann found Bachmann on the left, where she initially slipped but ran at the Japanese defence and evaded two challenges before drilling a shot inches wide.
The skills of Bachmann were lighting up the game and she was close to supplying an extraordinary goal after the break. After picking up a loose ball by the halfway line, Bachmann embarked on a dazzling run which took her past four opponents as well as goalkeeper Yamane, however she lost her footing and the slip allowed Japan to clear the danger.
Japan were looking sharp on the attack themselves and Yuika Sugasawa was inches away from doubling their lead when, after receiving the ball from Rumi Utsugi, her shot from the edge of the area struck the post, Caroline Abbe just doing enough with her challenge.
As the game went into the latter stages, Switzerland piled forward in an attempt to salvage a point. There was a scare for Japan as Yamane flapped at a corner kick but Ana Maria Crnogorcevic was unable to take advantage.
As the game went into the final minute of injury time, another glorious opportunity came Switzerland's way. Abbe pumped a long ball into the area where Yuri Kawamura miscued her clearance, the ball fell kindly for Bachmann with Yamane stranded and only two covering defenders but she lifted her shot over the bar and the final chance was gone.
Japan: Erina Yamane, Saori Ariyoshi, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Rumi Utsugi, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Kozue Ando (sub Yuika Sugasawa 32mins), Aya Miyama, Yuki Ogimi, Homare Sawa (sub Yuri Kawamura 57mins), Shinobu Ohno (sub Nahomi Kawasumi 90mins).
Switzerland: Gaelle Thalmann, Caroline Abbe, Vanessa Bernauer, Rachel Rinast, Noelle Maritz, Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, Martina Moser (sub Cinzia Zehnder 81mins), Fabienne Humm (sub Eseosa Aigbogun 45mins), Lia Waelti, Ramona Bachmann, Lara Dickenmann.
Player of the match: Aya Miyama.
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