Japan eased their way into the last eight of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Norway at Wellington Regional Stadium.
An unfortunate Ingrid Syrstad Engen own goal was cancelled out by a fine Guro Reiten header midway through the first half.
Second-half goals from Risa Shimizu and adidas Golden Boot-chasing Hinata Miyazawa wrapped up the win for the Nadeshiko.
After a fairly quiet opening quarter of an hour, Japan took the lead in bizarre circumstances.
Miyazawa floated in a speculative cross from the left which did not appear to pose any immediate danger until Syrstad Engen inadvertently diverted the ball into her own net.
Norway recovered quickly from that setback, however, and hit back just five minutes later.
Vilda Boe Risa dug out a superb first-time cross from the right, which Reiten met with a towering leap to expertly head home her side’s leveller.
Reiten’s header was the first goal Japan had conceded at Australia and New Zealand 2023.
They had previously gone over 300 minutes without their goal being breached.
Japan would restore their lead just after the break though, when a misplaced Boe Risa pass was pounced upon by Shimizu, who fired home an opportunistic second.
The Nadeshiko controlled proceedings thereafter and would make the game safe late in the contest.
Aoba Fujino broke away from just inside her own half and slid a defence-splitting ball through to the woman of the hour Miyazawa.
The in-form markswoman did the rest, slotting the ball home for her fifth goal of the tournament —- more than any other player.
Japan will now face Sweden or the U.S. in the quarter-finals.