Japan 2 - 1 Scotland - Shelley Kerr's side outclassed in Rennes despite Lana Clelland's screamer

Scotland's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Fifa Women's World Cup in France hang in the balance.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 3:54 pm
Updated Friday, 14th June 2019, 4:54 pm
Scotland fell to a 2-1 defeat to Japan despite Lana Clelland's goal.

Shelley Kerr's side fell to a 2-1 defeat to a classy and slick Japan side, despite a late rally when substitute Lana Clelland scored a fantastic goal from the edge of the box.

Following Sunday's 2-1 defeat to England it leaves the Scots on zero points at the bottom of Group D knowing only a comfortable win over Argentina and a fair bit of luck can see them progress.

There was an expectation that Scotland would come out and attack their opponents, who drew with Argentina in their opening game. Kerr had made four changes to the side which performed well in stages against England.

However, the Scots started slowly and were too deep from early on.

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It took seven minutes for the first chance, which fell to Japan, and 17 before the first shot on target, also Japan.

Scotland needed to rise from their stupor but they failed to do so as the Asians went ahead after 23 minutes.

A sloppy defensive header from Rachel Corsie fell at the feet of Jun Endo who slid the ball to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the box. The forward smashed the ball directly above Lee Alexander in the Scotland goal.

Still it didn't provoke Scotland.

Two crucial blocks from Scotland defenders before Kim Little headed off the line in the space of four minutes kept the deficit to one goal.

It was only a matter of time before a second arrived and it did from the penalty sport.

Corsie was adjudged to have pulled back Yuika Sugasawa as they chased a long ball. Replays showed that the decision was harsh.

Sugasawa dusted herself off and sent Alexander the wrong way.

It was a demoralising first 45 minutes and US legend Hope Solo didn't hold back on her assessment of Shelley Kerr.

"This is what I was hoping Shelley Kerr would have fixed things from the first game," she said on the BBC. "Unfortunately the verdict is out if she is a great tactician. And right now I have my doubts."

The team hadn't improved from the England outing but in fact had got worse.

There was no reaction after the interval, only a smart save from Alexander kept it at 2-0.

Enter Claire Emslie.

The goalscorer from Sunday helped swing the momentum and get Scotland a foothold in the game. She was positive and direct and it radiated around the team with Erin Cuthbert reinvigorated.

The latter hit the post in the 78th minute at a corner and moments later she should have been awarded a penalty after being tripped in the box.

Scotland pushed and got a glimmer of hope when Lana Clelland picked up on a slack pass in the Japanese midfield and sent a fine curling effort into the top corner.

However, that was it for the Scots.

Too little, too late.