Women’s World Cup: Japan 3-1 Norway: The Asian team beat Norway to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Japan took a step closer to a second Women’s World Cup title when they beat Norway to reach the quarter-finals.

The 2011 champions made the ideal start when Norway defender Ingrid Engen turned Hinata Miyazawa’s cross into her own net.

However, Norway equalised a few minutes later when Guro Reiten headed home.

Risa Shimizu’s heavily defected strike restored Japan’s lead before Hinata Miyazawa raced through to score a third and seal her side’s progress.

The goal cemented Japan’s place in the quarter-finals and kept Miyazawa on target for the Golden Boot – she leads the scoring charts in Australia and New Zealand on five.

“I am really happy to have scored the goal but it is because all of the team worked for that,” she said. “I want to score more.”

Norway were second best for much of the game but almost set up an exciting finish when goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita superbly kept out Karina Saevik’s bullet header.

Japan will play either defending champions the United States or Sweden in the last eight.

“The team is very positive, kept up the pace and I think we have become tougher than before,” Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda said.

Japan are seeking their first Women’s World Cup title in 12 years and they have barely put a foot wrong at this tournament.

They breezed through the group stage without dropping a point, including an eye-catching 4-0 win against fellow quarter-finalists Spain in their final group game.

In that game they played devastating counter-attacking football – winning despite having just 23% possession to show they can dig in and grind out victory against a tough opponent.

Reiten’s goal is the first they have conceded at this World Cup but apart from that header they once again delivered a strong defensive display.

On the rare occasion their defence was beaten, Yamashita was there to make an incredible save.

Norway were hoping to reach the quarter-finals of a Women’s World Cup for a second successive tournament – but in truth they have been out of sorts in 2023.

The 6-0 victory against the Philippines in their final group fixture ended a run of six games without a win and Japan were always going to provide a sterner test.

Norway’s cause at this tournament has not been helped by an injury to star forward Ada Hegerberg, who had not played since the 1-0 loss to New Zealand in their opening fixture prior to taking a place on the bench in Saturday’s game.

She came on with 16 minutes remaining in the last-16 game but could not affect the outcome.

It is unlikely that even a fully fit Hegerberg could have changed much against Japan, who had their opponents pegged back inside their own half for almost all of the second half.

“Credit to Japan for how they played and how they broke us down,” said coach Hege Riise.

“We were solid in defence at times, but not quite good enough.”

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