Argentina earned their first ever World Cup point after a goalless draw with Japan.
The 2011 World Cup champions were frustrated by their South American counterparts throughout, and will need a result against Scotland if they are to harbour any hopes of topping Group D.
But who were the key winners and losers from the game?
Winner: Agustina Barroso
Argentina were massive underdogs going into Monday’s game, playing in the World Cup for the first time since 2007, up against one-time winners Japan.
But, thanks to some resolute defending the Albicelestes were able to pick up their first ever World Cup point. At the heart of their rearguard was Sevilla centre-back Aldana Cometti, dealt with pretty much everything Japan threw at her.
The 26-year-old formed a wonderful partnership alongside Aldana Cometti, giving Japan’s forward line very few opportunities at goal. Barroso made a joint-high 11 clearances in the match, level with partner Cometti, but also made four interceptions and won four tackles.
Loser: Yui Hasegawa
After just five minutes, Yui Hasegawa looked ready to lead Japan to a dominating victory, causing early problems for the Argentina defence.
But Argentina very quickly cottoned on to Japan’s game, and Hasegawa was rendered practically ineffective. The 22-year-old was not able to pull the strings as many would have hoped with tight marking across the pitch.
And shortly after half-time, Hasegawa had arguably Japan’s best chance, with the ball falling to her inside the Argetina area. But the midfielder scuffed her effort, sending it wide without troubling Vanina Correa in the Argentina goal.
However, it wasn’t just her fault. Hasegawa didn’t have the right movement from her attacking team-mates at key moments, often having to turn away from goal when trying to drag her side forward. It was largely a game to forget for Japan’s bright star, who managed just seven passes into the final third in 90 minutes.
Winner: Vanina Correa
Also a big part of Argentina’s tough-to-beat defence was goalkeeper Vanina Correa, who has been part of all three World Cup squads for the Albicelestes.
Despite her place in the 2003 and 2007 squads, the 35-year-old has only recently record to action for Argentina. After her country failed to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, Correa actually retired from football to have a baby. A year later, Correa gave birth to twins, but they ultimately could not keep her away from the game.
The return came in 2017 and she played in all seven of Argentina’s games at the 2018 Copa America Femenina as the Albicelestes finished third. She went on to play a part in helping Argentina qualify for the World Cup, keeping goal in their two play-off games against Panama.
And against Japan she completed the feel-good story, keeping her first ever World Cup clean sheet.
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Loser: Asako Takakura
Although Argentina will deserve all the plaudits they get for their defensive performance, Japan must look at their own problems if they are to get out of the group.
The Nadeshiko have been one of the best teams in recent World Cup history, taking part in the past two finals – winning in 2011 and being beaten in 2015. But they have started the 2019 tournament with a whimper, being frustrated by a team 30 places lower than them in the world rankings at the start of the tournament.
And it will only get tougher for Japan manager Asako Takakura, who only has four days to turn things around before facing a Scotland side who will be buoyed by their second-half performance against England.
If Japan don’t fix their lack of aggression up front, the Nadeshiko could be looking at an early exit.
Winner: Women’s football in Argentina
As has already been mentioned, Argentina were very much underdogs for their opening group game against Japan. In their two previous World Cup appearances in 2003 and 2007, the Albicelestes had not managed a single point, losing all six games and scoring just two goals across the two tournaments.
History has been made 16 years on. https://t.co/f4hxlCHZbS
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In fact, Argentina previously went almost 1,000 days without a match after the 2015 Pan American Games. But, with the national team back action and at the World Cup, March 2019 brought a historic moment for women’s football in Argentina.
Three months prior to the 2019 World Cup, an agreement was signed, givign professional status to women’s football in Argentina, allowing league clubs to sign contracts. It gave women footballers the same rights as their male counterparts, and the benefits are beginning to show already.
It may not have been the most-exciting game to watch, but Argentina’s goalless draw against Japan was a defensive masterclass and gave a hint that the nation are slowly growing and will be eyeing more frequent World Cup appearances.
Loser: Sole Jaimes
Although Argentina were practically perfect in defence, frustrating a Japanese side looking to make their quality count, the Albicelestes’ own attacking outlet was left frustrated.
Aside from some menacing moments off the ball, Sole Jaimes did not really have the impact on the game she would have liked, suffering due to Argentina’s defensive style and poor use of the ball.
When Argentina did have the opportunity to counter-attack, it was often Jaimes on her up looking to push forward, which resulted in the Lyon striker being crowded out and the ball taken away from her.
Despite Jaimes’ 61 touches of the ball, only one came inside the Japan box, and she failed to hit the target with either of her two shots. Although once the full-time whistle went, Jaimes’ must have been happy with her team-mates overall performance on a historic afternoon for Argentina.