The Washington Post

Argentina fails to score but ends up celebratin­g



At the final whistle of their Women’s World Cup opener, Argentina’s players dropped to their knees as if they had won the tournament.

They didn’t even win the game. But for the first time, they didn’t lose, either.

Argentina played to a 0-0 draw against Japan on Monday in a Group D match in Paris to earn its first point ever at the World Cup. Argentina lost its previous six World Cup matches in 2003 and 2007 and missed the 2011 and 2015 tournament­s.

For a nation that loves the game and worships its successful men’s team, the draw against Japan can be as good as a win. Argentina had been outscored 33-2 in six previous World Cup games.

“I think we can really inspire people a lot,” midfielder Estefania Banini said. “We can also start a new process.”

Argentina wants far more than points at the World Cup. The bigger goal is to touch more hearts and minds back home.

“For women’s football in Argentina it is great that we are starting to flourish,” Argentina Coach Carlos Borrello said. “We are starting on our way and just starting to face up to these powerful forces in football.”

Previous concerns about a lack of uniforms and inadequate training conditions were addressed, two years after players went on strike because stipends went unpaid. A movement for equality pushed the country’s soccer associatio­n into giving profession­al status to the national women’s league.

Next up is England on Friday, while Japan faces Scotland in the other Group D game.

Japan took until the 50th minute to test goalie Vanina Correa, who stopped forward Kumi Yokoyama’s low shot from about 35 meters out. Minutes later, Japan midfielder Yui Hasegawa botched a good chance, swiping left of the goal from close range after a cross from the right.

Correa then palmed away a low cross from the right in the last minute and dealt well with a corner kick deep into injury time.

Argentina was extremely organized. Japan, runner-up in 2015, was largely lackluster.

CANADA 1, CAMEROON 0: Kadeisha Buchanan scored at the end of the first half, and Canada held on to defeat Cameroon in a Group E match in Montpelier, France.

Buchanan charged into the box on a corner kick, and her header bounced into the goal. But all eyes were on her teammate Christine Sinclair, who is four goals from becoming the sport’s all-time internatio­nal top scorer.

Sinclair, who turns 36 on Wednesday, sits at 181 goals, trailing only former U.S. forward Abby Wambach, who had 184 internatio­nal goals to set the record for men and women.

The Canadian captain’s free kick was blocked and cleared away in the 51st minute. She had scored in the opener of each of her previous four World Cup appearance­s.

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