FIFA Women's World Cup: Japan trounces Norway to secure matchup with winner of Sweden-UStext_fields
Wellington: In a matchup of former winners, Japan defeated Norway 3-1 behind a goal by Hinata Miyazawa, who scored her fifth goal of the tournament and advanced to the Women's World Cup quarterfinals for the fourth time.
Japan has been working hard to forget their humiliating elimination from the tournament in 2019, and they will now face the winner of the match between the holders, the United States, and Sweden on Sunday.
Despite giving up their first goal of the competition on Saturday to Guro Reiten's header, they prevailed in front of 33,042 spectators thanks to an own goal from Norway's Ingrid Engen and goals from Risa Shimizu and Miyazawa in the second half, Al Jazeera reported.
Miyazawa's goal in the 81st minute broke Homare Sawa's Japanese record for a World Cup established in 2011 when the Nadeshiko won the championship. It also broke a tie between Miyazawa and Germany captain Alexandra Popp for the tournament's most goals scored.
Japan was once again a tactical chameleon in the round of 16, playing with more than 60% of possession in a commanding performance after defeating Spain 4-0 with only 23% of possession in its group-stage finale.
On Saturday, Japan's traditional blue uniform was replaced with pink and purple pastels. The lighter colour scheme had little effect on its aggressive nature; it pushed forward right away and earned its first corner after two minutes.
It wasn't successful, but it was an early indication of intent. Japan never stopped pushing forward with long balls or quick, precise passes, and Norway, which conceded only one goal in group play, frequently appeared rattled at the back.
The defence finally yielded, although under peculiar circumstances. Miyazawa curled the ball in from deep on the left in the fifteenth minute, and Engen extended her leg to deflect the shot. She only succeeded in deflecting it wide of Aurora Mikalsen, who was manning the net, for the tournament's eighth own goal.
Japan appeared to be comfortably ahead, but in the 21st minute, Norway threatened for the first time in the game. Vilda Boe Risa sprinted on the right, carried the ball to the byline, crossed to the centre, and, with Guro Reiten standing tall, she smacked the ball past the diving Ayaka Yamashita and into the left corner.
The goal was scored wholly against the flow of the game. The winning goal by Shimizu occurred in the 50th minute as Japan resumed their offensive from midway. Boe Risa gained control of the ball after Miyazawa attempted to hold it up close to the goal. Risa attempted a back pass but accidentally slid the ball into the path of Shimizu, who was sprinting in from the right to score.
In the 81st minute, Miyazawa made a textbook finish by sprinting onto an excellent through pass and shooting wide of Mikalsen.
Only once, in 1999, did Norway and Japan square off at a World Cup, with Norway coming out on top 4-0.