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Japan beat Norway to reach quarter-finals in Women’s World Cup

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Wellington, Aug 5 (UNI) Japan eased their way into the last eight with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Norway at Wellington Regional Stadium here on Saturday.

An unfortunate Ingrid Syrstad Engen own goal was cancelled out by a fine Guro Reiten header midway through the first half. Second-half goals from Risa Shimizu and adidas Golden Boot-chasing Hinata Miyazawa wrapped up the win for the Nadeshiko.

After a fairly quiet opening quarter of an hour, Japan took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Miyazawa floated in a speculative cross from the left that didn’t appear to pose any immediate

danger until Syrstad Engen inadvertently diverted the ball into her own net, the FIFA reported.

Norway recovered quickly from that setback, however, and hit back just five minutes later. Vilda Boe Risa dug out a superb first-time cross from the right, which Reiten met with a towering leap to expertly head home her side’s leveller.

Japan would restore their lead just after the break though, when a misplaced Boe Risa pass was pounced upon by Shimizu, who fired home an opportunistic second.

The Nadeshiko controlled proceedings thereafter and would make the game safe late in the contest. Aoba Fujino broke away from just inside her own half and slid a defence-splitting ball through to the woman of the hour Miyazawa. The in-form markswoman did the rest, slotting the ball home for her fifth goal of the tournament – more than any other player.

Japan will now face Sweden or USA in the quarter-finals.

Japan goalscorer Risa Shimizu said, “There is still a long way to go, but after I felt frustrated in 2019, I feel like I’ve overcome an obstacle. We’ll head to the next one, but I feel we got a really great victory today. The ball came into my path. I had a similar chance in the first half but I made a shot without controlling the ball. I was thinking I would do it more calmly next time, and I’m glad it went in. A lot of many crosses were coming from the left flank, so I kept running forward thinking that one would come to me. Among us there were only positive words. Even when it became 1-1, no one has a negative mood. We could play in a very positive way.”

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