Japan end Aussie dream with tough win

FIFA Women's World Cup™ holders Japan have continued their title defence, but needed a late goal via the boot of substitute Mana Iwabuchi to quell the charge of tournament dark-horses Australia. Japan showed their trademark possession game in holding the ball for lengthy periods, leaving Australia unable to display their up-tempo attacking style.

Shinobu Ohno had the first opening of the game, carved out with a dash of composure and rare ingenuity, as she took a great first time touch from a long ball to lift the ball just over the crossbar. Ohno was at it again soon after, this time at the near post, but she flicked her effort narrowly wide from Nahomi Kawasumi’s low ball from the left after Australia relinquished possession in the middle of the pitch.

Sam Kerr always looked dangerous on the counter-attack and, after winning a free-kick after one such run, Alanna Kennedy struck a free-kick wide. It was then the turn of Azusa Iwashimizu who directed a strong header from a corner leaving Elise Kellond-Knight to clear just in front of the goal-line.

Australia looked brighter immediately after the break and Kerr got a shot in from the edge of the penalty area forcing Ayumi Kaihori into a diving save. A minute later Emily Van Egmond fired just over the crossbar from long range.

Japan though were soon pressing again, with captain Aya Miyama narrowly missing with a classy flick between her own legs towards goal at the near post. The Nadeshiko lifted the tempo in the dying stages as extra time loomed and Ogimi volleyed a Kawasumi cross just wide.

Iwabuchi’s shot was then blocked as she seemed set to score moments later. However, it was to prove a temporary reprieve as Japan's No16 turned the ball home from close range after Australia failed to clear a corner after Azusa Iwashimizu’s shot been blocked by goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

Japan will learn their semi-final opponents later, as England and tournament hosts Canada face off in the final quarter-final in Vancouver.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Rumi Utsugi (Japan)