Japan Stuns Spain 4-0 in Women’s World Cup Thriller

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Japan Stuns Spain 4-0 in Women's World Cup Thriller
Japan’s Counter-Attacking Brilliance Downs Spain 4-0

In a stunning upset at the Women’s World Cup, Japan delivered a masterclass in clinical counter-attacking to overwhelm Spain 4-0 on Monday, setting up an intriguing knockout stage clash with Norway. Hinata Miyazawa emerged as the star of the match, scoring twice and setting up another goal, sending a powerful warning to other title contenders.

The 2011 champions, Japan, showcased their prowess on the field, topping the group and securing a fixture against another former winner, Norway, in the next stage. On the other hand, Spain, boasting a roster of European club stars, will now face Switzerland in the last 16.

The first half saw Japan take complete control, leading 3-0 and displaying an impeccable tactical performance that stifled Spain’s possession-based play. Despite dominating the ball in front of a 20,957-strong crowd in Wellington, Spain failed to create any clear chances as Japan efficiently soaked up the pressure and struck back with deadly precision.

Japan’s coach, Futoshi Ikeda, executed a tactical masterclass by setting up a compact midfield that denied space and time for Spanish stars Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmati. Meanwhile, Japan’s swift and dynamic forward line took advantage of a disorganized Spanish defense, which sorely missed injured captain Ivana Andres.

Hinata Miyazawa, in particular, stood out with her outstanding performance, taking her tournament goal tally to four. She was well-supported by Riko Ueki and Mina Tanaka, who both scored impressive goals for Japan, showcasing the team’s firepower and versatility.

The match’s opening goal came in the 12th minute when Miyazawa displayed her speed and agility, outpacing the Spanish defense to reach Jun Endo’s exquisite curling pass from the halfway line. Miyazawa then calmly slotted the ball low past Misa Rodriguez to give Japan an early lead.

In the 29th minute, Miyazawa turned provider, driving forward and finding Ueki, whose shot deflected off Irene Paredes and found its way into the top corner, doubling Japan’s advantage.

As the first half drew to a close, another lethal counter-attack allowed Miyazawa the space to unleash a powerful shot, effectively sealing her brace and Japan’s 3-0 lead before the interval.

The second half saw Spain trying to regain control, but Japan’s defense held firm, thwarting any attempts at a comeback. The match’s final twist came in the 82nd minute when substitute Mina Tanaka, after a sensational solo run from the touchline, bamboozled the Spanish defense and unleashed a remarkable goal.

Coach Ikeda’s strategic selections paid off handsomely, with the Japanese team displaying great depth and quality throughout the match. Ikeda made five changes to his side from the previous victory against Costa Rica, including the decision to start Miyazawa and Ueki over the in-form duo of Tanaka and Aoba Fujino.

This comprehensive victory marked Japan’s first win over Spain in five attempts, making them a formidable force in the tournament and a genuine contender for the title. With 11 goals scored and yet to concede any, Japan’s prowess has not gone unnoticed, firmly placing them among the favorites to lift the Women’s World Cup trophy this year.

Hinata Miyazawa’s stellar performance not only earned her the title of the tournament’s leading scorer but also underscored Japan’s potential to go all the way in the competition. The anticipation for their upcoming clash with Norway in the knockout stage is now at an all-time high, as fans eagerly await another display of Japan’s clinical brilliance on the field.

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