Japan are the last team to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Women's World Cup as they knocked off the WWC debutants, Netherlands, with a 2-1 victory with goals coming from Saori Ariyoshi and Mizuho Sakaguchi.
In just the seventh minute, the Dutch Good interplay at the top of the box from the Dutch, ended with a shot from number eight blazing over the top of the goal. Two minutes later, Manon Melis made a fantastic diagonal run to get in behind the Japanese defense but flubbed when trying to shoot the ball and turned the ball over as a result.
Japan strikes first
Despite the Netherlands controlling the match thus far, number 19 opened the scoring for the defending champions after the ball struck the cross bar off of a great header from Yuki Ogimi.
There was nearly an instant reply; however, the cross from the right side of the pitch just evaded two Dutch forwards inside the danger zone. The final round of 16 match did eventually settle down as both teams tried to move the ball around to find that little pocket of space to exploit.
Miyama received the ball in the middle of the box and used her right foot to redirect the ball towards the frame, however, she just could not get the technique down pat.
Japan had quite a few chances between the 20th and 30th minutes to double their advantage. Unfortunately, the final ball just did not come off how they wanted to and created more half-chances than anything else.
With about three minutes to go until halftime, Ogimi found space 25 yards away from the goal and tried a shot that rose well above the cross bar and resulted in a Netherlands goal kick. Moments later Shinobu Ohno had a header from the middle of the 18 yard box but missed wide to the left of the goal.
Halftime: Japan 1-0 Netherlands
The first half of this round of 16 matchup was an interesting tactical battle for sure. It started out being dominated by the Netherlands as they passed the ball from flank to flank trying to stretch the back four of Japan and nearly found an opener inside 10 minutes.
In the second half, Japan took complete control. They dictated how it was going to be played and did not all the opposition to get a centimeter of breathing space whenever they got on the ball.
Japan nearly gave up a goal in the 72nd minute off of a set piece opportunity. The inswinging ball following a corner nearly found the head of two Dutch players and eventually was punched clear by Ayumi Kaihori.
Stunning team goal doubles advantage
Moments later, however, there would be a second goal from the champions after a lovely team build-up. The ball was moved around wonderfully and finally found its way to Aya Miyama down the left side of the box.
She laid a pass back towards the goal scorer, Mizuho Sakaguchi but not before Mana Iwabuchi played an impressive dummy that led to the second goal.
The Japanese will now take on Australia in the quarterfinals of the World Cup this Saturday.