Mizuho Sakaguchi scored what turned out to be the deciding goal in the 78th minute on a pretty left-footed shot from the top of 18 yard box, and Japan held off a late attack and a lose calls in the weakening moments to defeat the Dutch 2-1 on Tuesday night in knocked out stage.
“I’m sorry we kept you in suspense until the very end,” Sasaki said with a smile. “I tried to have a one-sided, stable game but we always have these tense moments.”
Kirsten van de Ven scored for the Dutch in stoppage time when the ball went off goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori’s right arm. Three additional minutes had been added to the clock. The goalie put her gloves to her face in disbelief and said something to herself, then had to stay alert as the Dutch threatened once more before the final whistle.
Sakaguchi scored shortly after Japan nearly had an own goal. Sherida Spitse took a corner in the 76th and the ball deflected off Aya Sameshima toward her own net when Kaihori punched it away with her right fist.
“We are in the knockout stage so if we lost there would be nothing left, so I’m happy that we won,” Sakaguchi said. “I went for a strike and I thought it was a long shot (in distance) and that’s not my strength, but I thought I should try it.”
Japan overpowered the young Dutch squad for much of the evening at BC Place by controlling possession in the midfield to create chances, and the defense pushed far up the field.
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