Japan 2 England 2: Smith agony as Japan strike late to grab equaliser

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The Independent Online

Kelly Smith felt devastated as she watched Japan snatch an equaliser at the death in their World Cup Group A opener here.

The Arsenal striker was the hero for England, her strikes in the 81st and 83rd minute wiping out Aya Miyama's 55th minute free-kick, and she looked to have put England on course for the three points here. But Miyama stepped up deep in injury time to rattle home her second free-kick of the night and ensure a share of the spoils.

Throughout the game England had put in an inspired performance on their return to the World Cup finals after a 12-year absence. And although Smith admitted the draw was disappointing, she praised the performance of the team on the night.

"I feel devastated," said Smith, 28. "With about a minute to go I could feel myself smiling inside thinking we had picked up three points. But then, with the last kick of the game, they hit a great free-kick and I just thought we had thrown the game away.

"We had gone from a real high to be brought back down to earth," she said. "I feel that on the night we deserved all three points with a great team performance, we dug deep and showed a lot of character and I am very proud of the girls."

Now England must pick themselves up for a crucial game against the defending champions Germany on Friday. It will not be easy, with the Germans full of confidence following their 11-0 victory over Argentina in the opening game on Monday.

Japan: Fukumoto, Isozaki (Nagasato, 86), Kinga (Ando, 45), Miyamoto (Hara, 70), Sakai, Arakawa, Saw, Iwashimizu, Miyama, Ohno, Utsugi.

England: Brown, Scott (Johnson, 89), Stoney, Chapman, White, Phillip, Carney, Williams, Aluko (Scott, 74), Smith, Yankey.

Referee: K Seitz (USA)

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