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Japan 2 (Iwabuchi 22, Sugasawa pen 35)>
Scotland 1 (Clelland 87)
Japan 2 (Iwabuchi 22, Sugasawa pen 35)
Scotland's second World Cup group match ended in a second defeat despite a superb late strike from Lana Clelland in Rennes.
It was very much the same story as their opening loss to England as Scotland were outplayed for much of the game before finishing strongly, and they can point to be on the receiving end of two awful penalty decisions during the course of the game, which turned out to be significant at the end.
Shelley Kerr made three changes to her starting line up which faced England with Nicola Docherty, Claire Emslie and the injured Christie Murray all making way for Lizzie Arnot, Jane Ross and Hayley Lauder who was winning her 100th cap.
Emi Nakajima volleyed a difficult chance wide for Japan early on but Scotland were looking comfortable until the midpoint of the first half, when Japan took the lead moments after an appalling piece of officiating.
Lisa Evans was the victim of a shockingly poor offside decision, in which she was not beyond the defender at any point before receiving the ball. Japan immediately attacked and Rachel Corsie's clearance only went as far as Jun Endo, who set up Mana Iwabuchi whose shot went over the hands of Lee Alexander for the opening goal.
Scotland were clearly rattled by the goal and could have gone two behind on the half hour and another crossed ball was not dealt with, Yuika Sugasawa winning the initial header and Iwabuchi headed past Alexander but Kim Little was on hand to cover and head off the line.
However Scotland's struggles against the crossed ball led to disaster on 35 minutes, but once again they were on the receiving end of a bad decision. Despite minimal contact at best by Corsie on Sugasawa, the striker hit the deck and a penalty was awarded. Sugasawa picked herself up to stroke home confidently from the spot and double Japan's lead.
Erin Cuthbert was inches away from pulling a goal back with a shot from the edge of the area which was narrowly over but Japan almost made it three on the stroke of half time as Nakajima cut the ball back from the goal line for Hina Sugita whose shot from eight yards came back off the bar.
The introduction of Emslie as substitute just before the hour gave Scotland fresh impetus and drive going forward but they continued to struggle to create anything clear cut, whilst Japan continued to play their possession game and make things tough for their opponents. Alexander was again called into action as she held a long range effort from Aya Sameshima after Kirsty Smith had been dispossessed.
Lana Clelland's first involvement after coming on saw her win a free kick near the goal line, where Caroline Weir's cross saw Jennifer Beattie challenge at the far post, the ball dropping for Cuthbert whose angled shot came back off the post.
Evans drilled a long range shot which was well saved by Ayaka Yamashita and Scotland were also denied what looked a clear penalty when Risa Shimizu controlled with her arm in the area, but it was ignored by the officials.
However an improved spell by Scotland brought its reward with three minutes remaining. Lana Clelland seized on a poor pass out of defence and gave Yamashita no chance with a powerful 20-yard strike into the top corner.
Alexander made a brilliant save from Sugita in injury time but there were no more opportunities for Scotland to get back on level terms, making Wednesday's final group match against Argentina a must win game if they are to stand any chance of making the knockout stages.
Scotland: Lee Alexander, Kirsty Smith, Hayley Lauder, Rachel Corsie, Jennifer Beattie, Lisa Evans (sub Fiona Brown 84 mins), Lizzie Arnot (sub Claire Emslie 59mins), Kim Little, Caroline Weir, Jane Ross (sub Lana Clelland 75mins), Erin Cuthbert.
Japan: Ayaka Yamashita, Risa Shimizu, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Nana Ichise, Hina Sugita, Emi Nakajima, Mana Iwabuchi (sub Yui Hasegawa 81mins), Yuika Sugasawa, Narumi Miura, Jun Endo (sub Rikako Kobayashi 65mins).
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