Friendly: Tanaka nets brace as Japan beat Nigeria


Mina Tanaka scored from a set piece in the 64th minute and from a penalty in the 68th as Japan beat Nigeria 2-0 in an international women’s football friendly on Thursday.

Despite their superior FIFA ranking, world No. 11 Nadeshiko Japan had limited opportunities against No. 46 Nigeria in the first half at Kobe’s Noevir Stadium.

The hosts looked sharper after the interval and made the breakthrough following a foul on forward Hina Sugita outside the area. Hikaru Naomoto lofted a perfectly weighted free kick into the box for the onrushing Tanaka, who controlled with her chest before burying a right-footed The 28-year-old striker completed her brace from the spot four minutes later, sending Nigeria keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie the wrong way after Sugita was knocked down inside the area.

Tanaka had one of Japan’s best chances in the first half, testing Nnadozie with a long-range effort that was tipped over the bar. The goalkeeper also did well to rush off her line and stop Tanaka one-on-one.

Futoshi Ikeda’s squad included a number of players from the Japan side who finished runners-up at this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup, including forwards Aoba Fujino and Maika Hamano, who came off the bench in the 69th minute.