World champs ease past Netherlands into quarter-finals

FIFA Women’s World Cup™ holders Japan are into the quarter-finals after goals in each half were enough for a 2-1 win over Netherlands in Vancouver setting up the Nadeshiko for a match-up against Australia.

Japan controlled the contest and possession from the first minute with the Dutch struggling for ideas at times against an organised defence. Netherlands did have an early salvo from Sherida Spitse, which flew over the bar from 20 metres.

But it was Japan who took the lead on just ten minutes following a Yuki Ogimi header onto the bar, with Saori Ariyoshi scoring with a flat shot from inside the box. Shinobu Ohno and Aya Sameshima interchanged passes but the latter’s shot went over the crossbar, and Japan ended the half in the ascendency as Ohno headed narrowly wide of the target.

It seemed to be a similar tale after the break as Netherlands’ Mandy Van den Berg almost inadvertently turned home an own goal following Nahomi Kawasumi’s cross soon after the break.

Gilt-edged openings remained at a premium until Netherlands twice saw the ball cleared off the line as firstly Japan defender Sameshima was saved by a superb block by her own goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori who made a superb reflex block, with Kirsten Van Den Ven unable to fire through a sea of legs.

It proved a costly miss as Japan doubled their lead within a minute as Mizuho Sakaguchi sweetly fired a shot home from the edge of the penalty area to put a fine flourish on a classily-worked move.

Van Den Ven pulled a consolation goal back during injury time with a header that Kaihori somehow let through her grasp.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Mizuho Sakaguchi (Japan)