Scotland captain Rachel Corsie says she “can’t imagine a bigger game” than Wednesday’s clash with Argentina as their hopes of World Cup progression teeter on the brink.
Shelley Kerr’s Scots lost 2-1 to Japan yesterday to follow up their opening loss – by the same scoreline – to England.
They must now defeat Argentina in Paris and hope to be one of the four third-place teams to progress to the knockouts.
Former champions Japan took a 2-0 lead in Rennes during the opening period, with the second a penalty given against Corsie, before Lana Clelland pulled a goal back late on.
The Aberdonian skipper was clearly upset at full-time and said: “It’s just disappointing.
“There were soft decisions and I was personally involved, so it is what it is. It’s tough to play against teams like that and give them such an advantage in the first half.”
Corsie doesn’t think she’ll have a problem lifting herself for Paris, where the Scots were set to travel by train today, because of the camaraderie around Kerr’s squad.
She said: “It’s the World Cup and that motivation goes a long way. Nobody’s allowed to feel down. Since the game, I’ve had so many messages from the girls.
“Paris is almost like a reboot and fresh start.”
The Argentina clash’s significance to Scotland has been amplified by the first two matches, and Corsie said: “We have to get three points.
“A win can get us out of the group and I can’t imagine what game would ever be bigger than that.”
Argentina opened their tournament with a surprise draw against title contenders Japan and, as a result, Corsie thinks the perception of their rivals in Rennes was skewed.
She said: “It was a tough night for all of us – they were great.
“We knew they would be and people maybe underestimated how good they would be because of the Argentina game (0-0 draw).”
Still, the 29-year-old thinks the penalty given when she was adjudged to have pulled back Yuika Sugasawa in the area was harsh.
She said: “There’s contact like that all the time and I didn’t feel there was much in it.
“Did I touch her? Yes. But I don’t know if she was getting to the ball or I done enough to bring her down.”
The Dark Blues had a stonewall penalty claim turned down after the break when Risa Shimizu handled in the Japan area, but referee Lidya Tafesse didn’t even consult the video assistant referee.
On this decision, Corsie said: “We asked and she said she saw it and it wasn’t a penalty.”
Japan were dominant early on and went in front on 25 minutes.
Corsie headed one of several probing Japanese passes into the ground straight to Jun Endo. She squared to Mana Iwabuchi.
The shot was a poor one, down the middle at head height with little pace, but keeper Lee Alexander flapped wildly at it as it sailed into the net.
The second came on 38 minutes, after Corsie was penalised – softly – for pulling back the Japanese number nine.
Sugasawa converted the penalty she’d won by sending Alexander the wrong way.
Erin Cuthbert went close with a shot three minutes before the break.
After the interval, Kerr’s team started to come into things and, on 77 minutes, Cuthbert hit the outside of the left post from an acute angle.
Scotland were denied a stonewall penalty when Cuthbert flicked the ball up in the box and replays showed a blatant movement of Risa Shimizu’s arm to block the ball.
On 88 minutes, Scotland had a consolation when sub Lana Clelland moved on to a loose defensive pass and fired into the top right corner from the edge of the area.
But it was too little too late, and Kerr & Co will now need to get a win against Argentina on Wednesday and hope they are one of the best four third place teams who will seal progression to the knockout stage.