Japan’s quest to reach a third consecutive women’s World Cup final began with a frustrating goalless draw against unheralded Argentina in Paris on Monday.
Asako Takakura’s Japan kept almost two-thirds of ball possession in the first half but struggled to find a way past a disciplined Argentine centre-back pairing of Agustina Barroso and Aldana Cometti.
Japan’s only meaningful chance came just after the interval when forward Kumi Yokoyama’s long-range effort forced goalkeeper Vanina Correa into her first save, before Yuki Sugasawa blasted the rebound over the bar.
The result ensured Carlos Borrello’s Argentina avoided defeat for the first time in a World Cup match, having lost each of their previous six games in the competition.
Japan, who lifted the World Cup in 2011 by defeating the United States, will be disappointed with their sluggish display in the final third after recording just three attempts on target.
The other game in Group D took place on Sunday, with England taking top spot after beating Scotland 2-1 in Nice.