Mora Helps Mexico Earn 2-2 Decision vs. Japan
July 7, 2003
MEXICO CITY - UCLA sophomore forward Iris Mora helped keep her nation's World Cup hopes alive Saturday, scoring Mexico's first goal in a 2-2 draw with Japan before 90 thousand fans in attendance at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. Saturday's match was the first of two meetings between Mexico and Japan, both vying for the 16th and final spot in this fall's 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, hosted by the United States.
Following a scoreless first half, Japan jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the 51st minute when Emi Yamamoto lined a hard shot that was actually saved and redirected off the crossbar by Mexican keeper Pamela Tajonar. The rebound was then easily headed in by Japanese midfielder Yayoi Kabayski.
Just a few minutes later, Mexico struck back when Mora received a throw-in just to the right of Japan's penalty box. She was able to spin her defender and get loose a dipping shot over the outstretched hands of Japanese goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago.
Japan took a 2-1 advantage in the 73rd minute when a poor clearance by Mexico left Tomomi Miyamoto a straightforward chance in the box, which she finished.
Mexico tied the match just three minutes later, as Marlene Sandoval punched in a close-range header off a corner kick. With ten minutes to go, Mora almost got the game winner, however her shot screamed over the crossbar, ending the match in a 2-2 tie.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday, July 12 at the National Stadium in Tokyo, with the winner earning a World Cup berth. In the event of a tie, Mexico must score at least two goals to force penalty kicks. If the match ends 0-0 or 1-1, Japan will automatically qualify.
If Mexico qualifies, Mora will be unavailable to play for UCLA in the upcoming 2003 season due to her World Cup commitments.
'I'm extremely proud of how Iris played on such a big stage under immense pressure,' said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis who was in attendance in Mexico City on Saturday. 'Although we would miss her, I would love to see Iris be able to play in the World Cup. My first priority for all of my players is to get them in a position to be able to represent their country.'
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