THE DAY REPLAYED – Japan pulled off the upset of the Women's Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018 by knocking out Spain in the semi-finals to set up a meeting with Portugal, who thrashed Bolivia.
Spain dominated possession but found their path to goal blocked time and again by a robust Japanese defence, before seemingly paving the way for victory by eventually breaking the deadlock just before half-time.
That proved to be a false hope, however, as Japan kept their shape but still managed to turn the game on its head thanks to goals from Miu Maeda, Ichika Arai and Sara Oino. The supporters filling the stands began to sense that the title favourites were on the ropes.
Spain tried everything and even played with a fly keeper for the last seven minutes. They did reduce the deficit with seconds left on the clock, but ultimately ran out of time and will now contest the bronze medal match.
In the first game of the day, Bolivia's hopes of reaching the final did not last long. The South Americans took an early lead against Portugal through a goal by fan favourite Maria Galvez and held their own for much of the first half, but had no response once the Europeans found their rhythm and went in 6-1 down at the break.
Fifo excelled and hit the target six times, while Telma Pereira (two goals, three assists) and Marta Teixeira (three goals, one assist) also stood out.
Did you know?
- Portugal's Fifo scored two hat-tricks and took two match balls home with her as a souvenir. She now leads the top scorers' chart with 17 goals, three ahead of Bolivia's Galvez.
- Japan only had 9 shots on target but scored three times.
- Portugal - Japan, Gold medal match, 18:00 (local time)
- Bolivia - Spain, Bronze medal match, 15:30 (local time)