Japan power past England to reach final

First-half goals by Riko Ueki and Jun Endo earned Japan a 2-0 victory over England in Vannes on Monday, and with it, a place in the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018.

On a sunny afternoon at the Stade de la Rabine, it was the Young Nadeshiko that put in an impressive first-half display, despite England’s Chloe Kelly creating the first chance of the match that Japan goalkeeper Hannah Stambaugh did well to save after just two minutes.

It proved the best opportunity of the first half for Mo Marley’s side, as Japan then took control of the contest. Following chances from Endo and Saori Takarada, Ueki scored her fifth goal of France 2018 with a low right-footed shot after turning past England defender Anna Patten in the opposition’s box on 22 minutes.

Japan then doubled their lead five minutes later, as Endo scored her second goal in as many games when she headed into an empty net on the rebound after Hinata Miyazawa powered a fine strike off the England crossbar.

The Young Nadeshiko were then unlucky not to extend their lead further on 34 minutes after Fuka Nagano hit the post with a curling finish from close range.

England’s efforts to get back into the match proved a frustrating cause for the Young Lionesses, as Japan’s organisation and work rate to close them down proved telling to the outcome of this semi-final clash. A powerful Georgia Stanway strike was England’s best chance after the break.

Victory for Futoshi Ikeda’s side ensures Japan’s maiden appearance in the final of this competition.

“Dare To Shine” Player of the Match: Fuka Nagano (JPN)