Japan 4, Mexico 0

Japan routed Mexico 4-0 Friday on a hat trick by Homare Sawa to

reach the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup for the second

time.

Sawa, playing in her fifth World Cup, opened the scoring in the

13th minute before a crowd of 22,291 at Bay Arena. The 32-year-old

captain added her second goal in the 39th after Shinobu Ohno had

made it 2-0 in the 15th. Sawa had plenty of room in the 80th minute

when she was set up by Yukari Kinga for her last score.

”I didn’t dare imagine that I would score three goals,” said

Sawa, who became her country’s top scorer – male or female – with

78.

”I’m really, really surprised,” she added. ”I would like to

continue to contribute as much as possible to Japanese

football.”

In Group B’s late game in Dresden, England and New Zealand need

a win to have any realistic hope of advancing. Mexico is in danger

of elimination.

”Mentally and physically we will have to recover from this

because this was quite painful, this defeat,” Mexico coach

Leonardo Cuellar said.

Japan pushed forward when it had the ball and defended with

commitment without it. All of which left Mexico overrun at midfield

and made for a frustrating afternoon for Mexico captain Maribel

Dominguez. Early on, she was crowded off the ball, ending a

promising move initiated by Stephany Mayor on the right wing.

Sawa put Japan ahead shortly afterward, getting to Aya Miyama’s

free kick and sending a header past Cecilia Santiago from close

range. Two minutes later, with a deft touch that took the ball past

two defenders, Ohno scored with a shot into the roof of the

net.

Dominguez found herself alone facing three Japanese defenders in

the 33rd minute. But her attempt was stopped, and although Veronica

Perez was lucky to get another chance from the rebound, it was sent

harmlessly wide. Perez’s free kick a minute later was easily

gathered by Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori.

Another header from Sawa – this time from Miyama’s corner kick –

all but ended the game in the 39th. The 16-year-old Santiago should

not have been beaten at the near post, but the youngest goalkeeper

in tournament history was left exposed by her weak defense.

Cuellar appeared to wave the white flag in the 62nd minute when

he removed an ineffective Dominguez for Kenti Robles, a

defender.

”The doctors were a little bit concerned about Maribel and we

decided to take her off so she can play in the game against New

Zealand,” he said. ”She is a strong-willed player and she did

what she could, but she’s not at a 100 percent.”

Japan coach Norio Sasaki warned against the rising expectations

surrounding his team.

”It’s an honor to be counted among the contenders for the final

winner, but we need to go step by step,” he said. ”We are

continuously improving. It’s an ongoing process and we would like

to get even better.”