Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament as Japan beat Norway 3-1 in a clash of former champions to reach the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time, Reelradio.com.ng reports.
Japan have been on a mission to bury the memory of their disappointing exit at the last-16 stage in 2019 and they will now move on to play the winner of Sunday’s clash between holders the United States and Sweden.
After finishing top of Group C with their best-ever goal return at this stage of a WWC, Japan were intent on continuing their front-foot approach in the knockout rounds. In a blistering opening 10 minutes, Risa Shimizu’s dipping cross nearly looped into the net over Aurora Mikalsen, and Mina Tanaka’s header was cleared off the line by Sophie Haug.
Japan earned their reward for a positive start as Miyazawa’s drilled cross was inadvertently diverted into her own net by Ingrid Syrstad Engen’s skewed clearance. But Norway responded almost immediately, as a rapid counterattack finished with Vilde Bøe Risa crossing for Guro Reiten, whose towering header flew into the top corner to give the Grasshoppers their 100th World Cup goal.
The leveller did little to stem the Japanese tide and Shimizu restored the lead after half time when she seized on Bøe Risa’s loose pass in the penalty area and fired into the net from close range. Japan continued to dictate the tempo of play, but a late Norwegian flurry saw Haug head inches wide before an unmarked Karina Sævik dragged her shot past the post. Ultimately, the late Norwegian attempts were in vain though, as Miyazawa moved to the top of the Golden Boot table by clinically curling past Mikalsen to send Japan through to the quarter-finals.
Futoshi Ikeda’s Japan once again showed their dominance that has yielded 13 tournament goals and one conceded as they continue to build World Cup momentum. Norway were second best throughout and showed the confidence of a side that is now winless in seven of their last eight matches as the Grasshoppers crashed out at the last 16 stage for the first time since 2015.