Japan cruise past Norway to reach quarterfinals

Sports

Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament as Japan beat Norway 3-1 in a clash of former champions on Saturday to reach the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time.

Japan have been on a mission to bury the memory of their disappointing exit at the last-16 stage in 2019 and move on to play the winner of Sunday’s clash between holders the United States and Sweden.

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Although they conceded their first goal of the tournament to Guro Reiten‘s header, an own goal from Norway’s Ingrid Engen as well as second-half strikes from Risa Shimizu and Miyazawa got them across the line in front of a crowd of 33,042.

Miyazawa’s 81st-minute goal moved her out of a tie with Germany captain Alexandra Popp as the tournament’s leading goalscorer as well as matching Homare Sawa’s Japanese record for a World Cup set in 2011 when the Nadeshiko clinched the title.

“I’m very happy, I didn’t think we would be able to come so far,” Miyazawa told reporters.

“All of the team is working so hard. Now that we are here, I want to score more goals. Whoever we play next, we need to prepare well and make sure we beat them.”

Norway, world champions in 1995, depart the World Cup before the quarter-finals for only the third time in nine campaigns.

Both teams came into the match on the back of big wins, Japan from the 4-0 dismantling of Spain and Norway after the 6-0 thrashing of the Philippines that resurrected their troubled campaign.

Japan, dominating possession where they were happy to live without the ball against the Spanish, were quickly on the attack but the opening goal in the 15th minute came from an unexpected source.

Miyazawa cut inside from the left flank to cross and Engen tried to block the ball, only to bury it into her own net for the eighth own goal of the World Cup.

Japan last won the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and hope to repeat the feat this summer.

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images


Norway were back on level terms from their first attack five minutes later, however, Vilde Boe Risa cutting the ball back from the byline and sending a cross into Japan’s box which Reiten met with a stunning header into the bottom left corner.

The Nadeshiko restored their advantage 10 minutes after halftime when Risa attempted an ill-advised pass to a team mate inside the box which wing back Shimizu intercepted and hammered home via a deflection off Engen.

Norway showed a little more urgency in the final 15 minutes but Karina Saevik could not find the target when free in front of goal in the 76th minute.

Space started opening up for Japan as Norway pressed forward and Miyazawa benefited in the 81st minute, taking a touch off Aoba Fujino‘s through ball and rolling it coolly into the net.

Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita had to be at her best to keep out Saevik’s header in stoppage time but Norway’s time in New Zealand was up a few minutes later.

“We met a very good Japan team,” said Norway coach Hege Riise. “We win together, we lose together. We tried up until the end, we did not give up. But it was not good enough.”

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