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FIFA Women’s World Cup: Japan reaches quarters after win over Norway

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 quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time.

Japan has been on a mission to bury the memory of its 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.

Although it conceded its 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 it 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.

Norway, world champions in 1995, departed the tournament before the quarter-finals for only the third time in nine World Cup 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 it was happy to live without the ball against the Spanish, was 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.

Norway was back on level terms from its 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 were ahead again 10 minutes after halftime when Risa attempted an ill-advised pass to a teammate inside the box which wing-back Shimizu intercepted and hammered into the net 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.

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