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HOME > Nadeshiko Japan > NEWS > 【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan clinch knockout stage as leaders of Group C with win over Spain - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™


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【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan clinch knockout stage as leaders of Group C with win over Spain - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™

01 August 2023

【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan clinch knockout stage as leaders of Group C with win over Spain - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™

On Monday, 31 July, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team) played their third group stage match of the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ in Wellington, New Zealand, where they defeated the Spain Women's National Team 4-0.

Following their 2-0 victory over the Costa Rica Women's National Team on Wednesday, Head Coach IKEDA Futoshi made five changes to their starting lineup, as TAKAHASHI Hana (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies) was given her first start of the tournament as one of the three defenders, while NAGANO Fuka (Liverpool FC) and HAYASHI Honoka (West Ham United) anchored the midfield. In offence, ENDO Jun (Angel City FC) was given the start in left wing while UEKI Riko (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza) was named as the lone striker.

In a match where Japan needed a win to advance to the knockout stage as the group leaders, KUMAGAI Saki (AS Roma) led the defence line to prevent the Spanish side from creating close opportunities. Although Spain had been controlling possession of the ball from the start, Japan took the lead in the 12th minute when MIYAZAWA Hinata (Mynavi Sendai Ladies) responded to a pass from Endo and slid the ball into the Spanish goal, igniting the 20,957-strong Wellington Regional Stadium crowd and inciting frequent chants of "Nippon" throughout the stadium.

Spain attempted to attack by collecting the ball to two-time Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Alexia PUTELLAS, but Japan survived the attacks and increased their lead on the counter, when Miyazawa assisted the goal of Ueki in the 29th minute. The two attackers collaborated to score another goal in the 40th minute, this time with Ueki providing the last pass to setup the goal of Miyazawa, giving Japan a 3-0 lead at the half.

FUJINO Aoba (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza) was introduced to replace Miyazawa to start the second half, and in the 59th minute, HASEGAWA Yui (Manchester City) and MORIYA Miyabi (INAC Kobe Leonessa) were substituted in for Nagano and MORIYA Miyabi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), respectively. Japan gradually increased the number of chances created after the introduction of TANAKA Mina (INAC Kobe Leonessa) in the 67th minute, which led to the goal scored in the 82nd minute. Tanaka displayed a spectacular individual effort to break inside the box and curl a shot into the upper left corner of the Spanish goal.

Japanese goalkeeper YAMASHITA Ayaka (INAC Kobe Leonessa) showcased great composure until the end to maintain the clean sheet, as Japan won the match 4-0 to top Group C with three consecutive victories. Miyazawa, who scored a brace in this match, was named the player of the match.

The Nadeshiko Japan will now face Norway, the runners-up of Group A, in the round of 16. The team returned to their basecamp in Christchurch on the following day, as they prepare ahead of the next match scheduled on Saturday 5 August at Wellington, New Zealand.

Coach and Players' Comments

IKEDA Futoshi, Head Coach (Nadeshiko Japan)
We had spent a lot of time moving the ball and defend against the opponents’ counterattacks in our first two matches, but I told the players that we would spend more time defending against the Spanish build-up in this match. We were successful in scoring a goal from plays that we believed was the best approach to take advantage of the chances we had. I believe we were able to move quickly after gaining possession of the ball and to defend tenaciously even while our opponents were dominating the ball possession. Although we didn't attack or keep the ball for too long, I believe we scored by attacking effectively.

DF #12 TAKAHASHI Hana (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)
Since it was my first start and first complete game after recovering from an injury, I was exhausted, but I was also happy I had put forth the effort. It was a relief and I really enjoyed it. I would like to thank all the people who helped me. To be very honest, there were times when I thought my legs would give out, but thanks to everyone's efforts on the pitch and the vocal support of the bench, my legs continued to move until the game was over. There are still issues to be addressed, so I would like to talk about that with the team because we will have a difficult time going forward if we don’t fix them.

MF #7 MIYAZAWA Hinata (Mynavi Sendai Ladies)
Despite being dominated in terms of ball possession, we were able to effectively launch our counterattacks because we all anticipated where the gaps would appear when our opponents went on the offensive and realised that we would have opportunities once we gained possession of the ball. I was always aware of the open space in front of me, even while playing defence, so I was thinking of ways to exploit that space. I was able to score those goals because of how hard we played defence.

MF #16 HAYASHI Honoka (West Ham United/England)
Even when our opponents had the ball, we maintained focus, persisted, and developed a rhythm in defence without losing our composure. We were always anticipating for our chances to counter, so it was great that our attackers were able to convert those opportunities. It really made us feel more comfortable and allowed us to keep running in defence. The entire team was determined to win today, and we were all on the same page in terms of our game plan. However, we have not accomplished anything yet, so we must reset our minds and prepare ahead of the next stage.

FW #9 UEKI Riko (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza)
Despite having to go through some extremely trying situations, our defence’s dedication allowed us to finish the first half in excellent shape. The fact that we were able to win a tough match like this gives us great confidence moving forward. Although this was my first start of the tournament, I knew exactly what I had to do on the pitch. I did all I can to help the team, even when I as I was leaving the pitch.

FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™

Tournament duration: Thu. 20 July - Sun. 20 August 2023
Group stage:
Sat. 22 July ◯ 5-0 vs Zambia
Wed. 26 July ◯ 2-0 vs Costa Rica
Mon. 31 July ◯ 4-0 vs Spain
Knockout stage:
Sat. 5 August 17:00 (Japan time)
Round of 16 vs Norway
[Live broadcast from 16:50 on NHK/FIFA+]
*Broadcast schedule is subject to change.
*Live and catch-up streams available on NHK+

Tournament information

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