Women's World Cup Du Jour: Japan finds some footing and Cristiana Girelli goes off

This is Yahoo Soccer’s daily Women’s World Cup recap. From the best performances to the buzziest moments, we’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing from France.

Key result

Japan 2-1 Scotland

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For the second time in as many games, the Scots might have deserved more than the loss they took. But credit to them is also credit to the Japanese, who earned their first victory at this Women’s World Cup. A productive first half didn’t go to waste as Mana Iwabuchi scored on a filthy strike from distance in the 23rd minute and Yuika Sugasawa converted a penalty 14 minutes later.

Questions of simulation nagged the penalty decision, as Scotland’s Rachel Corsie appeared to barely graze Sugasawa before she spun down, but Sugasawa slickly sent goalkeeper Lee Alexander the wrong way to score a goal that was probably coming anyway.

Much has been made of the Japanese identity this World Cup, since the program is transitioning out the mainstays who helped them win the title in 2011 and finish as runners-up four years ago, and integrating a fresh generation of promising talent. So who is Japan? We still may not know, but with England awaiting in the final Group D match, plus a likely berth in the knockout stage, we’ll soon find out.

Japan's Mana Iwabuchi, right, vies for the ball against Scotland's Caroline Weir on Friday in Rennes, France. (Getty)
Japan's Mana Iwabuchi, right, vies for the ball against Scotland's Caroline Weir on Friday in Rennes, France. (Getty)

Standout player

Cristiana Girelli, Italy

The third hat trick of this Women’s World Cup belongs to Girelli, and so does today’s honor (with all due respect to Vanina Correa). Girelli’s first goal came amid some controversy, as Jamaican keeper Sydney Schneider stopped the initial shot but came off her line early to do so, but Girelli capitalized on the re-take before nudging home her second midway through the first half and heading home the third a minute after the break. Most importantly? Italy clinched advancement to the knockout stage and continues to be one of the surprises of the tournament.

Best goal

Lana Clelland, Scotland

It may be of little consolation, but we back Clelland’s delicious finish late in the loss to Japan. Clelland took Nana Ichise’s careless pass, turned her eyes toward goal and chipped Ayaka Yamashita with a deft left foot:

Headlines from the touchlines

USWNT happy to avoid social media, block out noise over celebrations

England overcomes Correa’s heroics to beat Argentina

Saturday’s games

Netherlands vs. Cameroon, Group E, 9 a.m. ET

Canada vs. New Zealand, Group E, 3 p.m. ET

(Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)
(Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

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