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Japan 2 Netherlands 1: One goal enough for title-holders again

Reigning champions Japan held off a persistent Netherlands to triumph 2-1 and advance to the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals.

After taking the lead through Saori Ariyoshi early in the first half on Tuesday, Japan had to weather a string of attacks from the Dutch before Mizuho Sakaguchi wrapped up victory with 12 minutes remaining.

Kirsten van de Ven’s late header gave Netherlands some slim hope of forcing extra time but they could not manage an equaliser.

Ariyoshi put Japan in front in the 10th minute after Yuki Ogimi’s header rebounded off the crossbar. The Dutch – in their first World Cup – did not take a step back against the title-holders, however, and went desperately close to equalising in the 76th minute, with Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori forced to save a potential own goal before Van de Ven’s follow-up shot was blocked.

Roger Reijners’ team would live to rue that missed opportunity, as Japan went down the other end and Sakaguchi curled the ball into the net from the top of the box.

A terrible error from Kaihori allowed Van de Ven’s header to roll over the line in stoppage time but Japan held on to keep their World Cup defence alive.

Japan will face Australia in the quarters in Edmonton on Saturday.

Wed 24 Jun, 2015
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