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Football - 28. June 2011.

Japan defeat New Zealand on Day 2 in Germany

THE DAY REPLAYED - Anyone still doubting that women's football has made phenomenal progress of late ought to take another look at the second day of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ in Germany. The sun shone and the temperatures soared as the four teams in Group B, representing four different continents, took to the pitch in front of passionate crowds, delivering top-quality football with only nuances separating the sides. All four teams scored at least once, but only Japan managed a second, making the Asians the big winners on Monday.

In Bochum, it looked for a long time as though a compact New Zealand team might take points off the Nadeshiko, but at the end of the day a moment of magic by Aya Miyama sent the Japanese to the top of the table. They sit there on their own thanks to an enthusiastic and energetic display by Mexico, who fought back against a somewhat cramped England team to take a point in Wolfsburg. The group now promises thrills and excitement right to the end.

Japan 2-1 New Zealand
Mexico 1-1 England

Goal of the day
Mexico-England, Monica Ocampo, 33
It was the kind of long-range shot that leaves even the scorer full of awe and wonderment, at least for an instant. Monica Ocampo picked up the ball fully 30 metres from the England goal before unleashing a right-foot thunderbolt. Keeper Karen Bardsley was left with no chance at all, as the 24-year-old former shooting star, who stands a diminutive 1.56m, blasted an unstoppable equaliser into the top corner of the net.

Memorable moments
Emotional afternoon in Bochum
It was a day of strong emotions for the Japanese. Watched by an impressively large crowd, mainly bedecked in the colours of the national flag, Norio Sasaki’s team were carried through their 90 minutes against New Zealand on a palpable wave of euphoria. Mexican waves and rhythmic drumming provided a colourful and constant accompaniment to the match. The players took to the field with a huge banner, thanking “our friends around the world" for their support in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami three months ago. The team from the Land of the Rising Sun ended Monday with powerful memories, and plenty to smile about too.

Skilful set plays and powerful headers
Canada's Christine Sinclair, one of the biggest names in the women's game, set the standard on opening day with a superb free-kick goal, but Japanese star Miyama equalled the feat on Monday. With the score 1–1, New Zealand had begun to fancy their chances and were causing the Asians a problem or two, but the 26-year-old midfielder held her nerve and curled a 17-metre shot over the Kiwi wall and past keeper Jenny Bindon. But there was more to come: Germany's Kerstin Garefrekes netted an excellent header in Sunday's official Opening Match, but even her effort was arguably topped by both Amber Hearn of New Zealand and England's Fara Williams. The early indications are that this FIFA Women's World Cup could produce a crop of cracking goals from set pieces and headers.

The stat
2 - It's generally agreed that goalkeepers, like fine wines, improve with age. That's certainly the case with Jenny Bindon. The New Zealand shot-stopper provides a rock-solid last line of defence for her team, and also wrote herself into the history books today. At 38 years and 122 days, she became the second-oldest player ever to appear at the FIFA Women's World Cup, topped only by Brazil's Meg (39 years and 159 days). At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mexico keeper Cecilia Santiago today became the youngest goalkeeper in tournament history at the age of 16 years and 251 days.

The quote
"We haven't reached our goal yet so we will continue to work over the coming days. We have in our mind that we can achieve something special here!" Leonardo Cuellar, Mexico coach

Next up
Tuesday 28 June 2011
Colombia – Sweden, 15.00 CET, Leverkusen
USA – Korea DPR , 18.15 CET, Dresden

Have your say
For many years now, Japan's slick passing game has been praised and admired around the world, but the energetic Asians have yet to make it as far as the semi-finals at the FIFA Women's World Cup. Has the Nadeshiko’s time come?
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