Women’s World Cup: Japan beat Norway 3-1 to reach quarterfinals Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Japan scored their14th goal of the Women’s World Cup and conceded their first Saturday, beating Norway 3-1 to reach the quarterfinals for the fourth time.

Hinata Miyazawa sealed the win with her fifth goal of the tournament in the 81st minute to remain the leading scorer. Risa Shimizu’s 50th-minute goal followed an Ingrid Syrstad Engen own goal in the first half to help give Japan their fourth straight win of the tournament.

Guro Reiten headed a superb goal for Norway in the 21st minute to end Japan’s flawless defensive performance and leave the teams locked 1-1 a halftime.

After beating Spain 4-0 with only 23% of possession in their group-stage finale, Japan once again were a tactical chameleon in the round of 16 — playing with more than 60% of possession in a commanding performance.

Norway’s Emilie Haavi, Japan’s Mina Tanaka and Norway’s Mathilde Harviken, from left, challenge for the ball. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino).

Japan traded their regular blue uniform for pastel colours Saturday, pink and purple. The softer colour scheme did nothing to dull their attacking style; they pressed forward from the start and had their first corner after two minutes.

While it was ineffective, it was an early declaration of intent. With long balls or sharp, quick passing, Japan continually pressed forward and Norway, which conceded only one goal in group play, often seemed rattled at the back.

When the defense finally yielded, it was in unusual circumstances. In the 15th minute Miyazawa curled the ball in from depth on the left and Engen extended her leg to parry the ball. She managed only to deflect it wide of Aurora Mikalsen in goal for the eighth own goal of the tournament.

Japan seemed well on top but in the 21st minute, and from the first time in the match Norway had threatened, Vilda Boe Rise got away on the right, took the ball to the byline and crossed to the middle where Guro Reiten stood tall and headed wide of the diving Ayaka Yamashita into the left corner.

The goal came entirely against the run of play. After a half-hour, Japan had 183 completed passes to Norway’s 88, had more than 60%, five shots on goal. Miyazawa, Aoba Fujino, Jun Endo and others had been threatening.

Shimizu’s winner came in the 50th minute as Japan pushed forward again from halfway. Miyazawa tried to hold up the ball near goal, lost possession to Boe Risa, who tried a back pass but rolled the ball into the path of Shimizu rushing in from the right to score.

Miyazawa produced a copybook finish in the 81st, running onto a superb through ball and directing her shot wide of Mikalsen.

Norway and Japan had met only once before at a World Cup, in 1999, when Norway won 4-0.