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Japan 4-0 Spain: La Roja stunned by clinical counter-attacking display
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Mina Tanaka celebrates scoring Japan’s fourth goal (John Cowpland/AP)
Mina Tanaka celebrates scoring Japan’s fourth goal (John Cowpland/AP)

Japan claimed top spot in World Cup Group C ahead of Spain after condemning them to a remarkable 4-0 thrashing in Wellington with some superb counter-attacking play.

Both sides went into the game having already qualified for the last 16 on six points apiece, with Spain leading on goal difference, but Jorge Vilda’s side were left stunned in the first half as they bossed possession only to see their opponents score three times.

Hinata Miyazawa put Futoshi Ikeda’s Japan ahead with a 12th-minute strike, Riko Ueki doubled the lead just before the half-hour mark and Miyazaki then continued the ruthlessness by making it 3-0 in the 40th minute, taking her personal goal tally at the tournament to four.

Substitute Mina Tanaka subsequently fired in a superb effort with eight minutes of normal time to go to complete the rout.

The 2011 champions and 2015 runners-up, having scored 11 goals and conceded none en route to maximum points from their group games, will now face Norway in the next round at the same stadium on Saturday.

Spain, who had not conceded in the pool prior to this and netted eight times, will play Switzerland at Auckland’s Eden Park the same day.

While Spain had most of the ball from the off, it was Japan who grabbed an early lead when Jun Endo delivered a fine pass from the left and Miyazawa, who had scored twice in the campaign-opening 5-0 win against Zambia, slotted past Misa Rodriguez.

Jenni Hermoso sent a shot wide and Salma Paralluelo had one gathered by Ayaka Yamashita as Spain looked to reply, before Japan claimed possession in their own half and broke forward again. Miyazawa passed to Ueki and her shot looped over Rodriguez via a deflection off Irene Paredes for her second goal of the World Cup.

The same then followed – Hermoso and Paralluelo making unsuccessful attempts on goal, then Spain losing the ball and Japan making the most again with another forward charge, this time Ueki feeding Miyazaki for a finish that made her the tournament’s outright top scorer.

Spain struggled to muster much after the break, with Ona Batlle and Teresa Abelleira shooting off-target, before Tanaka wrapped things up for Japan in style late on, cutting in from the right and sending a wonderful strike into the top corner.


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