Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament as Japan beat Norway 3-1 in Saturday’s clash of former champions to reach the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time.
Japan had made it their mission to bury the memory of their disappointing knockout round in 2019 and take on the winner of the match between holders USA and Sweden on Sunday.
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Although they conceded their first goal of the tournament from a header from Guro Reit, an own goal from Norway’s Ingrid Engen, as well as goals from Risa Shimizu and Miyazawa in the second half, saw them across the finish line in front of a crowd of 33,042.
Her 81st-minute goal pulled Miyazawa out of a duel with German captain Alexandra Popp as the tournament’s top scorer, while also tying Homare Sawa’s Japanese record for a World Cup, set in 2011 when the Nadeshiko clinched the title.
“I’m very happy, I didn’t think we would get this far,” Miyazawa told reporters.
“The whole team works so hard. Now that we’re here, I want to score more goals. Whoever we play next, we have to prepare well and make sure we beat them.”
Norway, world champions in 1995, leaves the World Cup before the quarter-finals for the third time in nine years.
Both teams went into the game with big wins, Japan beating Spain 4-0 and Norway after beating the Philippines 6-0 to rekindle their difficult season.
Japan, who dominated possession and liked to go without the ball against Spain, were quick in attack but the 15th-minute opener came from an unexpected source.
Miyazawa fired in from the left flank and Engen tried to block the ball, but slammed it into her own net to earn her eighth own goal of the World Cup.
Norway were level from the first attack five minutes later, but Vilde Boe Risa repelled the ball from the baseline and sent a cross into the box for Japan, who parried a stunning header into the bottom left corner.
The Nadeshiko restored their lead 10 minutes after half-time when Risa attempted a rash pass in the box to a teammate who was intercepted by full-back Shimizu and sent a deflection from Engen into the net.
Norway showed a little more urgency in the last 15 minutes but Karina Saevik couldn’t get the goal in the 76th minute when she was free in front of goal.
The place opened up for Japan as Norway pushed forward and Miyazawa capitalized on that in the 81st minute, touching Aoba Fujino’s through ball and coolly rolling it into the net.
Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita had to do his best to save Saevik’s header in added time, but Norway’s time in New Zealand was up a few minutes later.
“We met a very good Japanese team,” said Norway coach Hege Riise. “We win together, we lose together. We tried until the end, we didn’t give up. But it wasn’t good enough.”