Japan is in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. The Asians, who stormed through the preliminary round without any problems, had a hard time with Norway in a 3-1 (1-1) win on Saturday (05.08.2023) in Wellington.
With a lot of luck and just four points from the three group games, Norway had only qualified for the round of 16 on goal difference over the New Zealanders who were tied on points. The Japanese, on the other hand, were enthusiastic. Three wins and 11-0 goals spoke a clear language after the preliminary round.
Norway with extreme defensive formation
Accordingly, Norway had chosen a simple tactic for the knockout game against the quick and agile Asians: compact defense was the order of the day. A five-man chain in the back row was supported by a deep four-man chain in front. Only striker Sophie Haug was allowed to circle lonely in front.
However, the Norwegian defense was unable to prevent Japan’s first opportunity after less than a minute of the game. Mina Tanaka kicked the ball over the ball from six yards after Aoba Fujino pushed through fine on the left.
Slapstick goal to make it 1-0 for Japan
Norway was low, very low. And Japan started. “Nadeshiko” kept trying over the outside, left over Jun Endo, right over Fujino. Nevertheless, it took an unfortunate slapstick insert from the Norwegians to mark the opening goal. In the 15th minute defender Ingrid Engen held her long leg in a harmless cross from half-field. The ball landed deflected to make it 1-0 in the lower right corner of the Norwegian goal. Keeper Aurora Mikalsen chased the ball in vain.
Norway high and far to compensate
A little later, Norway showed how things can go against the strong Japanese players. The first well-planned attack on the right ended in a nice high cross, which Guro Reit converted eleven meters from the goal with a wonderful header to make it 1-1 (20th). Japan had conceded the first goal of the tournament, now only the team from Jamaica are without a goal at the 2023 World Cup.
Interesting: In one fell swoop it was almost gone, the Japanese dominance. Although the combinations continued to run smoothly, the team of head coach Futoshi Ikeda was unable to create any clear scoring chances against the increasingly self-confident Norwegians. It looked like a hint of helpless Japanese faces as we went into the break.
Japan swinging into the second half – 2-1
But this was only a snapshot. Apparently the Japanese had found a “reset button” for the second period. In any case, it only lasted until the 50th minute, when they were ahead again. Risa Shimizu scored from ten meters to make it 2-1 after Norway defender Vilde Bøe Risa was unable to clear the ball properly under pressure.
Japan continued to dominate the game. But Norway continued to play disciplined. Always careful not to run into the possibly decisive counterattack. But then it came, albeit only in the 80th minute. Striker Hinata Miyazawa was cleverly sent through the ball and made it 3-1 with her fifth goal of the tournament alone in front of the Norwegian goalkeeper from 16 metres.
Hegerberg doesn’t turn things around either
Norway only created one real scoring opportunity with late substitute Ada Hegerberg. But Karina Saevik failed with a header from close range. The northern Europeans had to let Japan go first in the fight for the quarter-finals, and rightly so. There, next Friday (08/11/2023, 9.30 a.m. CEST), Japan will meet the winner of the round of 16 game between Sweden and USA on Sunday (08/06/2023, 11 a.m. CEST, live on the first and on sportschau.de)