FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2018
New Zealand clinch historic victory over Japan
24 Nov 2018
There will be a first-time champion at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup after New Zealand defeated 2014 winners Japan 4-3 on penalties after the match finished 1-1.
The Kiwis moved in front with a well-worked corner kick straight off the training ground. played a ball on the ground towards captain Aneka Mittendorff, who then let the ball roll between her legs to fall perfectly into the path of Amelia Abbott, who unleashed a shot from just inside the penalty area into the far corner of the net.
New Zealand then nearly took a two-goal lead when Maggie Jenkins broke free on goal but her shot struck the crossbar, much to the relief of Japan goalkeeper Shu Ohba.
For large parts of the first half New Zealand nullified Japan's attack and prevented them from moving the ball around the pitch with ease. However, the Little Nadeshiko found their way back into the match when Momoka Kinoshita's shot on goal was unintentionally bundled over the line by New Zealand defender Hannah Mackay-Wright for an own goal.
Japan were able to string together more fluid sequences of passing in the second half, but New Zealand defended their goal superbly and prevented any clear-cut scoring opportunities until the very end of regulation time, when Leat saved a shot from Momo Nakao to send the match to a penalty shootout.
Leat then carried her impressive form into the shootout, where she saved the first shot and then eventually scored the winning penalty.
New Zealand advance to the semi-finals of a Women's World Cup for the first time at any level, and will face Spain in the semi-finals on Wednesday 28 November at the Estadio Charrua.