Japan crowned U-17 queens
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Goals at either end of the Costa Rica 2014 final ensured Japan collected a deserved 2-0 win over Spain for their maiden FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup crown.

Japan also beat Spain 2-0 in the opening group match of the tournament and they again dominated goalscoring opportunities, but it was not until substitute Fuka Kono scored the second 12 minutes from time that Spain’s hopes of drawing level were finally extinguished. The Little Nadeshiko had gone into the match having narrowly failed to lift the crown in the Trinidad & Tobago 2010 final against Korea Republic, while Spain’s best was third place in that same tournament.

Japan claimed the ascendency after just five minutes with Shiho Matsubara’s looping shot tipped onto the crossbar by Elena De Toro, but Meika Nishida coolly put the rebound into the roof of the net from close range. Japan’s litany of chances gathered momentum and Yui Hasegawa pushed a good chance wide from just inside the penalty area.

The combination play between Hasegawa and captain Hina Sugita and the movement in the forward line was a constant threat, while Spain were largely restricted to half-chances. Soon after the break Rikako Kobayashi had a golden chance to put Japan two up but she hit her one-on-one shot straight at De Toro who made another good block.

Moments later Yui Hasegawa had another chance but her curling effort from the edge of the penalty area following a sweeping upfield move went narrowly wide. Substitute Fuka Kono looked dangerous from the moment she entered the fray,and the No13 turned her marker midway through the second half and fired with power from an acute angle but De Toro again made the save.

Kono was not to be denied, however, and she scored the second with an easy finish past the goalkeeper after Kobayashi opened up the defence with a perfect short pass. Mizuki Saihara should have scored a third with four minutes remaining but hit the crossbar after a perfect low cross to the back-post from Kono.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Hina Sugita (Japan)