Spain, Japan progress to quarterfinals

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Spain reached the quarterfinals for the first time after thrashing Switzerland 5-1 on Saturday, while Japan breezed past Norway 3-1 to also advance at the FIFA Women's World Cup, reported Xinhua.

Sixth-ranked Spain will play the Netherlands or South Africa in the quarterfinals, while Japan will take on either the United States or Sweden.

After being humbled 4-0 by Japan in their last group game, Spain responded magnificently in Auckland with Aitana Bonmati scoring twice.

Coach Jorge Vilda made five changes, including benching superstar Alexia Putellas, and it did the trick, with a dominant Spain having 25 shots at goal against Switzerland's two.

Bonmati said Spain had been determined to rebound after a humiliating defeat to Japan.

"The defeat was hard for us. We had to forget everything we've experienced in the past and it worked out," she said. "We could not have expected anything better."

In front of 43,217 fans, a record crowd for a football match in New Zealand, Spain scored in the fifth minute through Bonmati as Switzerland conceded a goal for the first time in the tournament.

But Switzerland hit back shortly after through a horrendous own goal from Spain when Laia Codina, who was inside her own half, over-hit a ball back to her own box without looking up.

It sped past an advancing Cata Coll, who had been recalled into the line-up as goalkeeper, for a farcical goal.

But Spain's embarrassment was short-lived as they regained the ascendancy in the 17th minute when Alba Redondo headed into the net before Bonmati scored her second after a superb swivel on the ball.

Spain effectively iced the game just before half-time when Codina made amends for her earlier gaffe with a goal from a corner scramble.

There was little intensity in the second-half, but Spain finished off their spectacular performance in style when Bonmati capitalized on a sloppy Switzerland pass and played in Jennifer Hermoso for a goal.

It was a disappointing exit for Switzerland, whose trademark miserly defense cracked against Spain as they again fell short of an elusive knockout World Cup victory.

"My players did nothing wrong. They gave everything and I am very proud of them," Switzerland coach Inka Grings said.

In the later match, a compelling clash of former champions, Japan dominated the early exchanges in Wellington and were rewarded when Norway midfielder Ingrid Engen stuck her leg out for an own goal.

Keeping the momentum built from their destruction of Spain, Japan looked in irrepressible form only to surrender their first goal of the tournament just five minutes later.

Norway's first push forward resulted in an equalizer from Guro Reiten, who flew high and headed into the corner net.

Japan were more dangerous, but struggled to create clear opportunities until Risa Shimizu scored just after half-time.

Hinata Miyazawa sealed the result in the 81st minute with a classy finish, as 2011 champions Japan moved into the quarterfinals.

The Netherlands, 2019 Women's World Cup runners-up, face South Africa on Sunday, while title holders U.S. play third-ranked Sweden in a blockbuster last 16 clash.

  •  Women’s WC


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