Japan, Korea Republic earn draws as France 2019 edges closer
Paderborn: Japan claimed an impressive 2-2 away draw against World Number Two Germany, while Korea Republic were held 1-1 at home by Iceland, as both sides continued their build-up to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 on Tuesday.
GERMANY 2-2 JAPAN
Japan led twice, but ultimately had to share the spoils with Germany in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Paderborn's Benteler Arena.
Yui Hasegawa and Kumi Yokoyama gave Japan leads in either half, but they gave them both up, as Svenja Huth's equaliser 18 minutes from time denied Asako Takakura's side a confidence-boosting win two months before the World Cup.
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Japan have now played all of the world's top four side's in the last six weeks, earning away draws against World Number One USA and Germany, but suffering defeats to England and France.
In a match between two of the world's elite sides, the first goal came from a decidedly poor piece of play from German goalkeeper Almuth Schult, who totally mishit a pass into the path of Yui Hasegawa who lobbed the ball into an empty net from over 30 yards to give Japan a lead they would take to half time.
German captain Alexandra Popp levelled the tie when she found sufficient space to thump a header in from six yards in the 53rd minute, but another error from Schult allowed Japan to re-take the lead 16 minutes later, with Emi Nakajima keeping a cool head to tee up Yokoyama for a simple tap-in from dead in front.
But despite Japan's effort to regain the advantage, this time the lead lasted only three minutes, with Huth bravely poking home the final goal of the contest after Japanese goalkeeper Chika Hirao spilled a high delivery from the left flank.
Japan, who lifted their second successive AFC Women's Asian Cup in Jordan last year, will meet Argentina, Scotland and England in Group D of the FIFA Women's World Cup in June.
KOREA REPUBLIC 1-1 ICELAND
Korea Republic came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw against Iceland in Chunchoen, with the talismanic Ji So-yun scoring the East Asian side's first-half equaliser.
Yoon Duk-yeo's side had come from two goals down, only to lose 3-2 in injury time in front of a record crowd in Yongin on Saturday, and - despite five changes to their startling line-up - the Koreans fell behind early again.
Korea Republic's stoppage time nemesis on Saturday, Rakel Hönnudóttir made her mark on proceedings a little earlier this time, scoring Iceland's opener after Sigríður Lára Garðarsdóttir's initial effort struck the woodwork in the 22nd minute.
But the hosts recovered quickly, putting together a lovely move in which Ji was supplied by youngster Han Chae-rin, with the more senior Chelsea star finishing unerringly into the bottom corner from just behind the penalty spot in the 28th minute.
As in their earlier meeting with the Scandinavians, Korea Republic created ample openings going forward, particularly late on, but a winning goal didn't materialise for the hosts, leaving the spoils to be shared at one apiece.
Korea Republic's final pre-World Cup friendly will be against Sweden in Gothenburg on June 1, before they meet hosts France as well as Nigeria and Norway at the global showpiece starting the following week.
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