Arsenal LFC manager Laura Harvey described as "fantastic" a charity tour to Japan during which the English title holders held national champions INAC Kobe and won two other games.
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Arsenal LFC manager Laura Harvey described as "fantastic" the club's 11-day charity tour to Japan, which the English treble winners ended unbeaten.
The UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists opened the tour with a 1-1 draw against Japanese title winners INAC Kobe at the Tokyo National Stadium in front of more than 11,000 fans. They then went on to defeat Musashigaoka College 5-0 and NTV Beleza 3-1.
In the first game, Kobe fielded seven of Japan's FIFA Women's World Cup winners including FIFA Women's Player of the Year nominee Homore Sawa. However, it was South Korea's Ji So-Yun that broke the deadlock on 73 minutes with a fine solo goal. Five minutes later, though, Jennifer Beattie equalised after a pass from Jordan Nobbs to secure a draw.
Two days later Arsenal were back in action at Musashigaoka College, who had sponsored the tour and have a 15-year partnership with the London outfit. Kim Little, Alex Scott – loaned back to the Gunners for the trip by Boston Breakers – Ellen White and Beattie made it 4-0 at half-time and the goalscorer against Kobe added her third of the tour after the break.
To conclude their visit Arsenal took on 2011 Japanese runners-up Beleza in Tama City. Before the interval White and, after an equaliser, Nobbs and Beattie had set up another victory against a team containing two World Cup winners. Following the match Arsenal conducted a football session with 200 children from Tohoku, which was afflicted by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, with all funds from the tour going to the relief effort.
Harvey, whose side meet Göteborg FC in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals in March, said: "The tour has been fantastic. To be able to come to the home of the World Cup winners, and test ourselves against some of the top women's clubs in the game – it's been unbelievable for us. Everyone's been incredibly welcoming and friendly while we've been here, the support's been great and we've learned a lot from the games too."
White added: "Japan have a very technically gifted side, fantastic with the ball at their feet, and I think that's translated to the club teams we've faced. INAC Kobe and NTV Beleza were very good footballing sides and it was a hard couple of games that we played. We've learned a lot while we've been here and gained a lot of knowledge about how Japanese sides play the game, which we'll take back home with us."