Japan completed the quarter-final lineup for the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday when the defending champions rolled into the last eight with an impressive 2-1 win over Holland.
The only team in the tournament to have won every game, Japan dominated the Dutch debutants with their speed and skill and move on to Edmonton and a Saturday meeting with Australia, who booked their last eight spot with an upset of Brazil.
An early strike from Saori Ariyoshi and a 78th-minute missile from Mizuho Sakaguchi accounted for Japan’s scoring, while Kirsten Van De Ven provided some late drama when her tame injury-time header somehow found its way past a static Ayumi Kaihori.
But Holland came to life in the second and were close to finding an equaliser in the 75th minute off a wild scramble from a corner, Kaihori blocking the initial goal-bound deflection before Van De Ven had her blast blocked on the line.
Despite the close call the Japanese refused to panic and the ‘Nadeshiko’ calmly worked the ball down the field with Sakaguchi providing a thundering finish to some superb buildup play that included a cheeky back heel pass and dummy run.
The match against Australia is a repeat of last year’s Women’s Asian Cup final that the Japanese won 1-0 in Vietnam. (The Guardian)