- Emi NAKAJIMA (20')
- Natsuki KISHIKAWA (74', 78')
- Toni DUGGAN (83' PEN)
Referee Mercy TAGOE (GHA)
Japan triumph - but go home
Japan ran out easy 3-1 winners over England but there was disappointment for them on the final whistle when they learned that it wasn't enough to carry them into the quarter-finals as Mexico had battled back to earn a point against Nigeria. Both Japan and England, each of them continental champions at U-19 level in 2009, now exit the tournament.
Both teams knew that only victory would suffice in Bielefeld. England were first to get forward and Jordan Nobbs tried an ambitious shot from distance in the first minute. However Japan were soon demonstrating more skill and control in their attacking moves and Lucy Bronze and co. were soon hving their work cut out to keep the likes of Mana Iwabuchi at bay.
When Iwabuchi played in Yuria Obara her cross was only a fraction ahead of the on-rushing Emi Nakajima. England captain Michelle Hinnigan went for goal direct from a free-kick from 25 metres out. Erina Yamane palmed it up in the air and then watched with relief as the ball bounced on the top of the bar before falling behind for a corner.
A wonderful opening then ensued for the talented Iwabuchi when Megumi Takase’s clever pass left her with a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Unusually for her, she finished poorly, stabbing her effort straight at Rebecca Spencer.
Japan kept pressing and when Nakajima struck a clean volley it spun just over the angle of post and bar. They were getting closer and in the 20th minute they seized the lead.
Yuria Obara battled hard and cleverly to give herself room to weigh up her cross which was hit it hard and low and evaded everyone at the near post. Following up behind was Nakajimi and she finished confidently. With Nigeria beating Mexico this scoreline would be enough to take Japan through.
It almost became 2-0 soon after with Takase sending a difficult header too high. England gave everying to keep their tournament dream alive but before the second half they tested Yamane only with long shots.
After half-time the pressure became more intense and Japan struggled to get the ball out of their own half. England substitute Danielle Carter found the ball at her feet with a great opportunity but skied it. Then when another free-kick caused confusion the ball spilled out to Bronze but her effort soared into the seats behind the goal.
England never threatened seriously again while in the 74th minute Japan made the game safe. A free-kick came in from the right and Natsuki Kishikawa twisted to turn in a good header. Two minutes later Nozomi Fujita struck a shot against the bar and then in the 78th minute, following another free-kick, Kishikawa was there again to turn it home.
England scored a consolation penalty through Toni Duggan after Carter as fouled and heartbreak came for Japan with the news that Mexico had equalised and that was enough for them to go through. England's disappointment was on another level as they finished bottom of Group C with just a single point.