Classy Japan ease past Mexico into semis
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Japan continued their impressive form with a comfortable 2-0 win over Mexico to earn their second FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semi-final berth in three editions and a match-up against Venezuela.

Despite the relatively close scoreline Japan were clear winners dominating possession throughout the contest, although Mexico deserve credit for maintaining their collective fighting spirit under immense pressure.

Japan soon claimed the ascendency after Rikako Kobayashi displayed dynamic fast-feet to beat her defender near the corner flag, with her low cross pushed home by Yui Hasegawa.

A moment of magic from Hina Sugita on the half-hour mark nearly extended the margin. The stylish No10 adroitly created space and her ensuing left-foot drive seemed to be arrowing into the far corner only for Emily Alvarado to pull off an equally impressive fingertip save.

Moments later came Mexico’s best chance of the half as Viridiana Salazar failed to make clean contact with an awkward bouncing ball under pressure from the goalkeeper, but Rana Okuma was still required to mop up on the goalline.

A minute from the break Japan added their second from the penalty spot. Hasegawa was deemed to have been fouled as she burst into the penalty area only to hit the ensuing spot-kick straight at Alvarado, however captain Sugita saved her blushes by converting on the follow-up.

Hikaru Kitagawa forced Alvarado into yet another sharp save, while Mexico skipper Rebeca Bernal cleared Fuka Nagano’s close-range effort off the line.

Hasegawa’s rasping shot rocked the crossbar with a quarter-hour remaining and despite being unable to finish off the contest with a third the Little Nadeshiko were deserving winners.

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