England 2-2 Japan

A last-minute free-kick denied England victory against Japan as the two sides battled out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their opening Group A game at the 2007 World Cup.

Having gone behind to Aya Miyama's free-kick early in the second half, Kelly Smith appeared to have won the game for England when she struck in the 81st and 83rd minutes. But Japan won another free-kick in a dangerous position four minutes into injury-time and Miyama struck a superb 30-yard free-kick to rescue a point.

That late goal was certainly harsh on England, who dominated possession and had the better chances. They had started the brighter too and after missing a couple of half-chances really should have taken the lead in the 38th minute. Japan goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto raced out of goal to try to clear the ball but missed it completely. The onrushing Eniola Aluko then pounced on the mistake, only to send her shot wide of the open goal from the edge of the box.

England came out strong after the break and Katie Chapman saw her goalbound shot cleared by the Japan defence in the 50th minute. But it was Japan who took the lead in the 55th minute when Miyama's 25-yard free-kick swerved beyond Rachel Brown and into the net.

England continued to press and they were finally rewarded in the 81st minute when Smith coolly slotted beyond the hapless Fukumoto. Two minutes later Smith put England ahead when she broke down the left before firing a powerful drive at Fukumoto, who could only deflect the ball back into the path of Smith; at the second time of asking she made no mistake from close range.

At that point it looked like England would gain a deserved victory - until Japan rescued a point at the death.