Argentina earn their first World Cup point
Argentina earned their first ever point at a World Cup with a scrappy goalless draw against Japan on Monday night in Paris.
Japan, who have reached the last two World Cup finals, and won it in 2011, were kicking off their 2019 campaign with their opening Group D game, and were strong favourites with sports betting companies to take all three points from this fixture. However, they were largely uninspired throughout and rarely threatened the Argentinian goal – a second-half shot from Yui Hasegawa, which went wide, proved to be their best chance of the game.
Going into this World Cup, Argentina were rated as 500/1 outsiders to claim the trophy, and their previous tournament record didn’t promise much. They had lost all six of their World Cup games to date, finishing bottom of their group on each of the two previous occasions they had reached the finals.
However, they showed admirable resilience in holding out against superior opponents. Japan enjoyed 72% of possession but were unable to force many chances, with neither side managing a shot on target in the first half. Yuika Sugasawa missed a half-chance, shooting wide from a tight angle following a long-range shot from Kumi Yokoyama, while Flor Bonsegundo had the best chance for Argentina, but fired her shot straight at goal. That effort came in the 73rd minute and represented Argentina’s only shot on target. In fact, they didn’t have a touch in the Japanese penalty area until the 65th minute, but their delight at earning a point was visible at the final whistle.
That joy was understandable given their experience of having conceded an average of 5.5 goals in their previous six World Cup games, including an 11-0 thrashing by Germany in their last opening game, during the 2007 edition.
The 0-0 draw was only the seventh goalless stalemate in the history of the World Cup, and the first since a game between the United States and Sweden during the 2015 tournament.
While the point was an excellent result for Argentina, it leaves Japan with a tougher task if they are to qualify for the next stage. They will take on England and World Cup debutants Scotland in their remaining two matches, but England already have a lead in this section following their victory over Scotland on Sunday. The next round of games in this group take place on Friday when England play Argentina and Japan take on Scotland.
Words: Man Ngo