Women's World Cup
June 27, 2011
Aya Miyama's goal in 68th minute helps Japan escape with victory
BOCHUM, Germany -- Japan escaped with a 2-1 victory over New Zealand on Monday at the Women's World Cup behind a curling free kick in the 68th minute by star player Aya Miyama.Miyama sent a 17-yard shot over a wall to win it for a Japanese team whose play looked suspect for long stretches. Japan is ranked fourth in the world.Before a crowd of 15,000, both teams struggled on a day when temperatures approached the high 80s. Japan took the lead in the sixth minute on a goal by Yuki Nagasato. Six minutes later Amber Hearn tied it with a header.England and Mexico played to a 1-1 draw in Wolfsburg in the other Group B game.Japan opened the scoring when Shinobu Ohno intercepted in midfield and threaded a pass to Nagasato. New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon, looking unsteady most of the game, charged off her line only to see the ball lobbed over her head.It looked like the start of a rout, but a goalkeeping blunder by Ayumi Kaihori soon put New Zealand back in the game. Kaihori misjudged a high cross and the unmarked Hearn headed the ball into an empty net. The game stayed tight until Miyama struck with her pinpoint shot.Japan enjoyed most of the possessions, but too often its shots went astray or its finishing touch was insufficient. New Zealand persevered and had Japan in trouble until well into the second half. But, with the wilting heat taking a toll, there were few clear chances, and no tying goal.