Erin Cuthbert was left to lament a sense of “deja-vu” as Scotland paid the price for another poor first-half display at the Women’s World Cup.
Shelley Kerr’s side lost 2-1 to Japan, a repeat of an opening defeat by England in which they were also 2-0 down at the break before a late rally.
The Chelsea forward knows Scotland left themselves a “mountain to climb”.
“We can’t let a top team go 2-0 up and think we can get back in the game easily,” Cuthbert said.
“I’m bitterly disappointed we haven’t taken something from the game again. It’s almost deja-vu with the England game – two narrow defeats in the same fashion.”
Scotland sit bottom of Group D after two games and their chances of progressing hang by a thread and victory against Argentina, who drew with Japan on match-day one before losing 1-0 to England on Friday, is a must if they are to have any hope of finishing as one of the best third-place sides.
Japan, ranked seventh in the world, hit the front through Mana Iwabuchi and doubled their lead from the penalty spot through Yuika Sugasawa after the striker was downed by Rachel Corsie.
Scotland struck back late on, but Lana Clelland’s fine goal proved no more than a consolation.
Cuthbert admitted defensive errors cost her side and is looking for major improvements in their final Group D match against Argentina.
“It’s a collective thing,” the 20-year-old said. “Starting from the front, midfield and defence – it’s everyone involved.
“The game plan in the first half didn’t work, maybe because we sat off and gave them too much time on the ball.
“We changed the shape. But, as a collective, we have to take responsibility as players for the shape we were in, because I got caught out of position sometimes, and so did others, so we need to take accountability for that.”
‘I do think it struck her hand’
Scotland had two penalty claims in the second half, when Cuthbert was bundled over in the box and then when the ball appeared to strike Risa Shimizu’s arm. Both incidents, however, were waved away by the referee.
“It took me about 10 minutes to run off the kick on my ankle,” Cuthbert said. “I don’t know if she’s kicked the ball before she has kicked my ankle. It was definitely a sore one and I’m still feeling it.”
As for being thwarted by Shimazu inside the penalty box later, she said: “I don’t know if it was deliberate, or to what extent her arm was out from her body, but I do think it struck her hand.
“You trust VAR to make the right decisions – but when they don’t go to VAR, there must be a reason for it. It’s disappointing, but it’s just your luck.”
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