Women's World Cup: Shelley Kerr defends tactics as Scotland lose to Japan

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Clelland's superb 20-yard strike isn't enough as Scotland lose 2-1 to Japan

Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr has defended her tactics against Japan despite suffering a second straight defeat in the Women's World Cup.

The Scots were 2-0 behind at the break before substitute Lana Clelland scored a late goal.

Kerr's tactics were later criticised by BBC pundit Hope Solo.

But, while the head coach said "we critique ourselves all the time", she insisted that "tactically, I thought we got things right".

Scotland lie bottom of Group D without a point after the World Cup debutants also lost 2-1 in their opening fixture to an England side who qualified for the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Argentina.

Kerr's side again improved after going in 2-0 down at the break and she explained: "We changed tactically again today to try to combat their movement. It worked in spells in the game and not in other spells and a little adjustment here and there helps because Japan's movement was so incredible.

"I will definitely need time to reflect on this one. We made some errors in the first half, but I thought our game plan was working really well."

Mana Iwabuchi fired past goalkeeper Lee Alexander to put the former World Cup winners ahead, while Yuika Sugasawa extended the lead from the penalty spot after being fouled by Rachel Corsie.

Substitute Clelland's fine long-range strike with a couple of minutes remaining was reward for Scotland pushing forward in the final 15 minutes, but Kerr suggested her side had to be more cagey until then.

"You got a quality team with great movement that we knew we'd struggle to cope with," she said. "That's where we're at at this moment in time.

"I think we nullified them and we started the game well, but we only did that to a degree. They managed to find little pockets of space, especially coming towards our final third, which hurt us in the first half."

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Kerr thought her side "played much better" after half-time and thought they were denied "a clear penalty".

"We were always a threat going forward," she said. "We've just played another quality team. We made a couple of errors - take the errors out from the first half and you're going in perhaps 0-0 and that gives you a chance."

While Kerr and her players were frustrated to lose both their opening games, she stressed that "we also have to have a sense of realism" as they were up against "world-class players".

Kerr believes the Scots can still qualify by beating Argentina in their final game on Wednesday and making the knock-out stage as one of four best third-placed sides.

"Argentina once again showed what a well-organised side they are and England proved it difficult to break them down," she said.

"Nothing changes for us following the result. We need to beat Argentina to give us a chance, which is a scenario we've had in our heads since the draw was made.

"It's all or nothing in the last game. We knew it was going to be tough playing against England and Japan."

Changing game with fresh legs is not tactics - analysis

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'The verdict is still out on Shelley Kerr's Scotland tactics'

Former United States goalkeeper and former World Cup winner Hope Solo on BBC Sport

Hats off to the Scottish players because there were some great individual efforts, but it was too little, too late and the verdict is still out tactically.

What changed the game was putting fresh legs on the field and, for me, that's not tactics. That's just putting fresh legs on the field.

They have to lift their heads up because, ultimately, they did make an improvement, but when you have two of the top players in Erin Cuthbert and Kim Little and they're not connecting on the field, I don't understand it.

As the manager, you look at that and you say 'I need my players to connect'. These are the two players who can really carry the game and they are on opposite sides of the field almost the entire game.

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