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Japan Trounces Spain 4-0 to Top Group C at Women's World Cup

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Japan scored 3 times from lightning breaks within the first half, as soon as within the second and defended resolutely to trounce Spain 4-0 on Monday and prime Group C on the Women’s World Cup.

Hinata Miyazawa scored twice, Riko Ueki scored as soon as and each have been instrumental in one another’s targets as Japan switched swiftly from protection to counter-attack and scored from its solely three makes an attempt on aim earlier than halftime.

Mina Tanaka got here off the bench to attain the final within the 82nd minute as Japan, with solely 22% of possession, turned on a counter-attacking grasp class in entrance of 21,000 followers.

Both groups had already clinched locations within the spherical of 16, Japan for the fourth World Cup in succession, Spain for the second. Both had overwhelmed Zambia 5-0 and Spain had the higher aim differential after a 3-0 win over Costa Rica. A draw would have been sufficient to see Spain end atop a gaggle for the primary time in its historical past.

But Spain has struggled in opposition to Asian groups in World Cup matches, dropping to South Korea in 2015 and drawing with China in 2019.

Japan’s Hikaru Naomoto, left, and Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso vie for the ball through the Women’s World Cup Group C soccer match between Japan and Spain in Wellington, July 31, 2023.

Japan performed with a robust and chilly wind at its again within the first half and that added carry to lengthy balls ahead which helped catch the Spain protection in retreat.

Spain had an awesome majority of possession within the half; by the 25-minute mark it had loved 68% and had greater than 230 accomplished passes to Japan’s 43. But it was timid, reluctant to go ahead and performed principally across the center of the sector, maintaining the ball on the bottom within the face of the wind.

Japan was content material to defend in depth and to counter-attack. It sprang the entice for the primary time within the twelfth. From simply contained in the Spain half and large on the left Jun Endo despatched a protracted, curling ball ahead which fell for Miyakawa, who neatly slipped her shot previous Misa Rodriguez.

In the twenty third Moeka Minami cleared from the sting of the Japan space. Ueki nodded the ball again for Nagano to ship Miyazawa away on the appropriate. She handed throughout the aim to Ueki, who took the ball on her left foot, propped to her proper and unleashed a shot which deflected off Irene Paredes and ballooned over Rodriguez.

Ueki celebrated the aim a day after her twenty fourth birthday.

In the fortieth it was Ueki’s flip to ship for Miyazawa. She broke incisively on the left, handed throughout to the appropriate because the Spain protection, backpedaling, tried to regroup and Miyazawa completed clinically together with her left foot.

Each aim fell into the identical sample and every was executed with the identical precision. Spain had few possibilities earlier than halftime, maybe its finest was Jennifer Hermoso’s header from Ona Batlle’s cross.

Tanaka’s aim was a powerful solo effort. She beat Rocio Galvez close to midway, eluded Batlle and Paredes after which drove the ball powerfully into the highest left nook. Japan’s 4 targets got here from solely 5 makes an attempt.

Among the followers at Sky Stadium have been some from Palmerston North, the provincial city 160 kilometers north of Wellington which was Spain’s base till they give up it out of the blue final week.

Japan was a shock winner of the World Cup in 2011 and runners-up to the United States in 2015. With 12 targets from three group matches this time, they once more loom as a title contender.

Japan now will play Group A runner-up Norway on Saturday within the spherical of 16 and Spain will play Group A winner Switzerland.