Spain Progress to FIFA WWC Quarter-Final Round

The first round of 16 match between Switzerland and Spain in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 kicked off with both teams looking to make history by advancing past the last 16 stage for the first time at Eden Park on Saturday, 5 August. 

Switzerland fielded the same starting lineup as their previous draw against New Zealand, while Spain made five changes from their defeat to Japan.

The match started steadily, with both teams finding their feet, but Spain quickly took the lead in the 5th minute through Patricia Bonmati. Switzerland goalkeeper Thalmann made a great save, but Bonmati was there to capitalise on the rebound, putting Spain ahead 1-0. 

However, just six minutes later, Switzerland was handed a lifeline as Laia Codina scored an own goal, bringing the scoreline level at 1-1.

Spain continued to dominate possession, and in the 16th minute, Alba Redondo’s header found the back of the net to give Spain a 2-1 lead. 

The Spanish team looked relentless in their attacks and continued to pressure the Swiss defence. In the 35th minute, Bonmati scored her second goal of the match, extending Spain’s lead to 3-1.

Just before halftime, Codina redeemed herself for the own goal she had scored earlier, finding the back of the net for Spain’s fourth goal of the match. 

The first half ended with Spain leading 4-1 and demonstrating their dominance on the field.

Switzerland made a triple substitution at halftime, hoping to turn things around in the second half. However, Spain remained in control of the game, with Marta Cardona’s goal in the 69th minute further extending their lead to 5-1. 

Switzerland had their first attempt at goal in the 57th minute, highlighting their struggles to break past the Spanish defence.

Spain made several substitutions to manage the game and secure their victory. The Swiss team tried to stage a comeback, but the Spanish defence remained resilient, denying them any clear opportunities. Spain controlled the possession, playing the ball through their backline, and successfully ran down the clock.

The match ended with a scoreline of 5-1 in favour of Spain. Patricia Bonmati was undoubtedly the standout player of the match, scoring two goals and putting on a masterclass performance. Spain secured their first-ever knockout stage victory in a major tournament, while Switzerland was eliminated from the World Cup.

Spain’s dominant performance earns them a spot in the quarter-final, where they will face their next challenge. 

Japan Defeats Norway 3-1 to Secure Quarterfinal Spot 

Japan and Norway faced off in the second round of 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. Japan came into the match with three dominant wins in the group stage, while Norway finished second in their group. The teams were ranked closely, with Japan at 11th and Norway at 12th in the FIFA rankings.

The starting lineups for both teams were as follows:

Japan: Ayaka Yamashita, Hana Takahashi, Saki Kumagai, Moeka Minami, Risa Shimizu, Yui Hasegawa, Fuka Nagano, Jun Endo, Hinata Miyazawa, Aoba Fujino, Mina Tanaka.

Norway: Emilie Haavi, Sophie Roman Haug, Caroline Graham Hansen, Guro Reiten, Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Vilde Boe Risa, Tuva Hansen, Mathilde Hauge Harviken, Maren Naevdal Mjelde, Thea Bjelde, Aurora Mikalsen.

The national anthems were played, with Japan’s anthem followed by Norway’s. The match kicked off with Japan in pink and Norway in red.

In the first half, Japan started brightly and had a few nervy moments for the Norwegian goalkeeper Mikalsen. Japan had already won four corners and their short-corner routine unsettled Norway. 

In the 14th minute, Japan took the lead with an own goal. Miyazawa made a dangerous run on the left flank, cut inside, and crossed the ball. Engen’s attempted block sent the ball bouncing into the bottom left corner. 

However, Norway quickly equalised in the 19th minute with a header from Guro Reiten. The goal marked a century of goals for Norway in the Women’s World Cup. 

There was a collision between players in the 30th minute, but both resumed play shortly after. Japan held the majority of possession in the first half, with 65% of the ball. The first half ended with a 1-1 scoreline.

The second half started with Norway making no changes. In the 49th minute, Japan took the lead again with a goal from Risa Shimizu. Miyazawa’s failed control on the penalty spot led to the ball breaking to Shimizu, who rolled it towards the bottom right corner, deflecting off Engen in the process. 

Japan continued to dominate possession, and Norway made their first substitutions in the 62nd minute. 

Despite Japan’s control of the game, Norway looked lively after star player Ada Hegerberg came on. However, Japan extended their lead in the 80th minute with a goal from Miyazawa. Fujino played a defence-splitting pass to Miyazawa, who calmly finished into the bottom right corner. 

With only six minutes left in the match, Norway had a mountain to climb. Both teams had a clash of heads in the 84th minute but resumed play after receiving treatment. 

In stoppage time, Norway had a chance to score, but Yamashita made an excellent save to deny them. 

The match ended with a 3-1 victory for Japan.

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