Japan 3 Norway 1
Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament as Japan beat Norway 3-1 in a clash of former champions in Wellington on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time.
Japan have been on a mission to bury the memory of their disappointing exit at the last-16 stage in 2019 and move on to play the winner of Sunday's clash between holders the United States and Sweden.
Although they conceded their first goal of the tournament to Guro Reiten's header, an own goal from Norway's Ingrid Engen as well as second-half strikes from Risa Shimizu and Miyazawa got them across the line in front of a crowd of 33,042.
Miyazawa's 81st-minute goal moved her out of a tie with Germany captain Alexandra Popp as the tournament's leading goalscorer as well as matching 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 be able to come so far,” Miyazawa told reporters.
“All of the team is working so hard. Now that we are here, I want to score more goals. Whoever we play next, we need to prepare well and make sure we beat them.”
Norway, world champions in 1995, depart the World Cup before the quarter-finals for only the third time in nine campaigns.
Switzerland 1 Spain 5
Five days after Spain’s shock loss to Japan, a bold squad reshuffle by coach Jorge Vilda paid off as they thrashed Switzerland 5-1 in their last-16 Women’s World Cup clash at Eden Park in Auckland.
The victory launched La Roja into the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
“[The 4-0 loss to Japan] really hurt and the healing of that pain will continue,” Vilda told a press conference.
“So we analysed what we could do, we trained, we saw what the players were like, we analysed the rival. And we selected the 11 players that we believed are in the best condition to play the game.”
Aitana Bonmati scored twice, and her first, in the fifth minute, was the first time the Swiss had conceded all tournament. Alba Redondo, Laia Codina and Jenny Hermoso completed the rout.
“Today, we showed that Spain is a team of 23 players,” Vilda said. “It’s a very happy day – we scored goals. We could have scored more goals. And we’re in the quarter-finals making history.”
Saturday’s victory comes less than a year since 15 players threatened to quit if long-time coach Vilda was kept on after their disappointingly abrupt Euro 2022 exit. The federation, however, backed the coach.
Asked if the win was a relief, Vilda said: “I don’t see the weight off my shoulders. I see it as something that makes me very happy.”
But the 25-year-old Bonmati, a midfielder for Barcelona, said she was proud of her team’s work on Saturday.
“It wasn’t easy to play today after what happened the other day,” she said. “And this is when you really see the personality of the team and the personality of the players. And I hope that we will be here for many days.”
Spain’s resounding win also came without Alexia Putellas, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, in the starting 11 as she continues recovering fitness after a serious knee injury.
Bonmati’s appearance in the starting line-up appears the only certainty after her performance on Saturday.
“We’ve shown you again that they all deserve to be in the starting line-up,” the coach said. “I have the 23 best players in the world.”
Spain takes on the winner of the South Africa-Netherlands round-of-16 game in the quarter-finals.
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