Vancouver: Japan showed no ambition for defending their women’s football World Cup title although they beat the Netherlands 2-1 in a round of 16 clash here for their fourth successive victory.
The Japanese women have won all their four matches so far in the tournament by a single-goal margin. Facing lowly teams like Cameroon, Switzerland and Ecuador, the defending champions scored only four goals in earlier outings, reports Xinhua.
Tuesday’s match saw the Japanese lead 2-0 with one goal in each half, but a mistake by goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori awarded a goal to the Dutch.
Japan will face Australia, who upset Brazil 1-0, to advance into the semis. But a hard-fought win over the Dutch and three close group victories give them little confidence to face stronger opponents.
Japan scored early as they did in the earlier games. Yuki Ogimi headed onto the bar and Saori Ariyoshi got the deflection to score with ease after 10 minutes.
Then the Japanese stopped attacking after leading 1-0 and dominated the match with a well-organised midfield.
Kaihori did well to punch out a close range effort from Mandy Van De Ven in the 76th minute.
It proved a costly miss for the Dutch as Japan scored on the following possession. After a series of dazzling teamwork in the penalty area, Mizuho Sakaguchi fired home with her left foot to make it 2-0 in the 78th minute.
Everybody thought Japan would pocket a convincing win when Kaihori could not hold a powerless shot from Van Den Ven and the ball slipped from her palm and into the net in the injury time.