Japan seek healing after 'cruel' penalty ends World Cup hopes

Sports | AGENCIES 27 Jun 2019

Japan coach Asako Takakura says the late penalty that sent her team out of the women's football World Cup was cruel but urged the players to look to the future.

The 2011 World Cup winners were beaten 2-1 by Holland in Rennes, France, as Lieke Martens converted a 90th-minute penalty awarded after a Vivianne Miedema shot had struck the arm of captain Saki Kumagai - a decision which the Video Assistant Referee confirmed.

It was a desperately disappointing way for Japan to go out. They had been the better team after Yui Hasegawa canceled out Martens' early opener, and they hit the woodwork twice.

"It was a match we really could have won. We created lots of chances and it was unfortunate that we didn't take them," said Takakura.

About the VAR decision, he said: "VAR exists. Sometimes cruel decisions have been taken in other matches. Today it went against us. We need to look forward and accept the decision."

The Dutch will play Italy in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

The Italians beat China 2-0 in Montpellier thanks to goals from Valentina Giacinti and substitute Aurora Galli.

China enjoyed a good spell before the break but failed to make it count as Italy 'keeper Laura Giuliani made some good saves. "We've done a good job. We need to do much better," said China coach Jia Xiuquan. "We couldn't win the game and I apologize to all the Chinese fans."

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