The women’s world defending champions, Japan, are much closer to retaining their title as World Cup Champions, after defeating England 2-1 in Edmonton earlier today. Both teams started out aggressively, with both sides performing equally well in both attacking and defending.
Japan were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after England defender Claire Rafferty pushed Saori Ariyoshi, leading to the referee’s controversial decision to award the penalty. Aya Miyama converts the penalty to give the lead to the Nadeshiko.
Seven minutes later, another penalty was given, but this time, to England. Another controversial decision was made by the referee after a trip from Yuki Ogimi towards Steph Houghton, which surprised many commentators around the world as from the replay, there was no contact between Ogimi and Houghton. Liverpool striker, Fara Williams scored the penalty, equalizing the score to 1-1 at half-time.
The second half was more aggressive, with a stronger fighting spirit from England, who had most of the possession until halfway into the second half. Japan wasted possession, especially with poor clearance and passes from the Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, giving back the ball towards the opposition. England had many chances from set pieces, but failed to capitalize on that. Japan regained the momentum after Mana Iwabuchi, the hero of the quarter-final match against Australia, came onto the pitch, replacing Shinobu Ohno.
In the second minute of stoppage time, an own-goal from England defender Laura Bassett crashed England’s dream into their first Women’s World Cup Final, after attempting to clear the ball out of play. It was a shocking way to end England’s journey, but a happy moment for the Japanese.
Japan will play the final match in Vancouver on Sunday in a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match, against United States. The Japanese team is looking forward to winning back-to-back world cup victories, with only Germany holding the record of back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2007 currently.
Picture Source: FIFA courtesy of Getty Images