Not many had given a young roster in Japan much chance at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup but they are proving to not only be unflinching but also very, very good.
A goal separates the two teams at the break
The first half was a great example of how the game would go as both teams looked to score at almost every opportunity. Brazil used their pace and skill to bait the Japanese defenders into giving them room to operate while Japan would position themselves and their passes into the right positions to cause panic in the Brazilian backline. Japan came closest to opening the scoring midway into the first 45 minutes when they hit the crossbar but the ball bounced away before anyone in blue could collect the rebound.
The deadlock was broken just as the first half was nearing its end. Emi Nakajima provided the final pass after another flowing Japanese attack, bringing a long ball out of the air with her foot beautifully before unselfishly passing the ball to Yuka Mokimi as the goalkeeper advanced. With an open goal in front of her, Mokimi produced a chipped ball that evaded Aline's recovery attempts and gave the Japanese the lead.
The chances turn to goals for both sides
After a first half were both teams tested each defense time and time again, the second half rained goals. The Brazilians were the first to open the scoring in the second 45 as they equalized in the 58th thanks to a goal by Debinha. After failing to clear their lines, Japan were punished with Debinha picked up the loose ball, jinxed her way past one marker before firing through a crowd of legs into the far corner of the goal.
If you thought that Brazil were in the ascendancy after that goal, Japan proved that assumption wrong as they continued to create just as many chances as the Brazilians after that early goal. The warning signs were there as Brazil began to fade late in the second half as Momiki should have put her country ahead in the 70th minute when she pounced on a mistake by Tamires but her effort went narrowly wide of the goal. Japan were rewarded for their persistence in the 80th minute when Rikako Kobayashi gave them the lead again. Brazil had actually almost scored just before then when Erina Yamane had missed the ball during a long set piece but a defender was there to clear off the line. Japan then moved up the field quickly and Mokimi, who had been outstanding all game lone, picked out Kobayashi with a fine cross and the forward nodded home.
The final goal of the game came by way of Mokimi once again in the 85th minute as she flicked the ball on to Yui Hasegawa who then proceeded to glide by Tamires and score despite a number of players in front of her. It was no less than Japan deserved and they now look to their final match as a great chance to win the competition.