A Women’s World Cup of change, of sudden early departures and tantalizing arrivals, has accomplished its upending of certainty and custom.
No former champion stays within the event with two rounds to play.
Gone prematurely are the United States, with its 4 world championships, and Germany, with two. Ousted is Norway, the 1995 victor. And now Japan, the 2011 winner, has exited within the quarterfinals with a 2-1 defeat to Sweden on Friday in Auckland, New Zealand.
Of course, it will be extremely inaccurate to contemplate Sweden an arriviste. It has participated in all 9 Women’s World Cups, ending second in 2003 and third thrice. But it has by no means gained a significant event and longs to be a first-time champion.
Sweden will face Spain within the semifinals after smothering Japan’s versatile assault within the first half after which defending for its event life within the second. It constructed what appeared a safe lead early within the second half by scoring twice not directly on its specialty, set items, then held on as Japan, determined and energized, made a fierce, if futile, cost.
Japan, which had scored 14 objectives in its first 4 matches and appeared a good choose as the best team left in the tournament, didn’t handle a shot within the first half. It woke up because the exit door loomed, creating livid probabilities within the second half. But it should lengthy remorse a missed penalty kick within the seventy fifth minute.
“We fought so hard because we wanted it,” Japan’s captain, Saki Kumagai, stated via tears. “We want to go to the next round, of course.”
Sweden’s victory, Spain’s first journey to the semifinals and Japan’s exit appeared in step with the spirit of a World Cup with the event’s biggest-ever discipline, the very best attendance at this stage and essentially the most receptive embrace of the newly risen and revealing ambitions of groups like Colombia, Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco.
Finally, FIFA can start to say with some legitimacy that the Women’s World Cup gives an occasion of worldwide, not merely regional or entrenched, chance. The different facet of the draw is an analogous reflection of that development: Australia will face France, and England, the reigning European champion, will play Colombia.
On Friday, Sweden pressed excessive via the primary half to suffocate Japan’s assaults. But when it possessed the ball, Sweden was affected person, utilizing brief passes to take care of possession and in search of a protracted ball to reap the benefits of its peak and aerial expertise.
In the thirty second minute, Sweden’s set-piece mastery delivered a scrappy objective. Six of its 11 objectives within the event have come straight or not directly from set items — 4 from nook kicks. This time, midfielder Kosovare Asllani’s free kick rattled round within the penalty space, and the defender Magdalena Eriksson saved the play alive with three jabs on the ball. Finally, it fell to her fellow heart again, Amanda Ilestedt, who scored from simply contained in the six-yard field.
“I thought, ‘I’m just going to put it away now,’” Ilestedt stated. “So that was a great feeling.”
Even earlier than that, nonetheless, Sweden had set a bodily tone towards the smaller, youthful Japanese gamers.
“They hadn’t played, like, a physical team until they played us,” stated the Swedish substitute Sofia Jakobsson, who performs for the San Diego Wave within the National Women’s Soccer League. “We are bigger than them and could go into harder tackles.”
As the second half opened, Japan’s goalkeeper, Ayaka Yamashita, pushed a shot simply broad from the charging Johanna Kaneryd, giving Sweden a nook kick. Fuka Nagano dealt with the ball because the nook sailed into the group in entrance of Japan’s objective, and after a video assessment, Sweden was awarded a penalty kick. Filippa Angeldal slotted the ball low and to the left, giving Sweden a 2-0 lead.
It was not a secure one.
“Something happened,” Jakobsson stated. “I don’t know if they were growing into the game or we were becoming more tired.”
After taking part in extra defensive-minded within the first half, Japan’s assault was energized by the substitute Jun Endo. Sweden had anticipated a vigorous comeback, with Eriksson warning earlier than that match that Japan’s assault may “come from anywhere and they will never stop.” Her remark proved prophetic.
In the seventy fifth minute, Japan gained a penalty kick when the substitute ahead Riko Ueki had her heel clipped by Sweden’s Madelen Janogy. But Ueki’s shot clanged off the crossbar, and her header on the rebound looped excessive over the objective.
It was advised afterward to Sweden’s left again, Jonna Andersson, that her staff was residing a charmed existence within the knockout rounds, having survived a penalty shootout solely 5 days earlier to eradicate the United States.
Andersson smiled and stated she most popular to consider it was the imposing presence of Sweden’s excellent goalkeeper, Zecira Musovic, not luck, that had made the distinction once more, no less than on Ueki’s try. “Maybe it’s a good goalkeeper that takes some energy or disturbs the penalty taker,” Andersson stated.
In the 87th minute, Japan lastly scored on a rebound by Honoka Hayashi after a failed clearance by Sweden gifted her a straightforward shot at Musovic. But not even 10 minutes of added time have been sufficient to discover a tying objective.
Japan was gone. And a first-time Women’s World Cup champion waits its crowning second.
“I think we have the team to go all the way,” Andersson stated. “And now we are one step closer.”