Japan makes its way to quarters
VANCOUVER, Canada — Mizuho Sakaguchi scored what turned out to be the deciding goal in the 78th minute on a pretty left- footed shot from the top of the 18yard box, and defending Women’s World Cup champion Japan held off a late attack to beat the Netherlands, 2- 1, on Tuesday night and reach the quarterfinals.
Japan will face Australia on Saturday at Edmonton.
Kirsten van de Ven scored for the Dutch in extra time when the ball went off goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori’s arm. The keeper put her gloves to her face in disbelief.
Sakaguchi scored shortly after Japan nearly had an own goal. Sherida Spitse took a corner in the 76th and the ball deflected off Aya Sameshima toward her own net when Kaihori punched it away with her right fist.
Japan’s initial goal came when Saori Ariyoshi found herself in perfect position after the Netherlands f lubbed a clearing attempt and Ariyoshi scored from the top of the box in the 10th minute.
Five of Japan’s six goals have come in the 29th minute or earlier, with all six scored by different players.
Japan and Brazil were the only teams to win all three group- stage games, and the Japanese overpowered the young Dutch squad for much of the evening at BC Place by controlling possession in the midfield. Even when the Netherlands threatened early, it seemed a step slow.