Japan routs Mexico 4-0 in women’s World Cup

Japan captain Homare Sawa scored a hat trick as her side

trounced Mexico 4-0 Friday 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, and added her second in the 39th after Shinobu Ohno

had made it 2-0 in the 15th.

The 32-year-old Sawa was in plenty of space when she was picked

out by Yukari Kinga to complete her hat trick in the 80th, before

22,291 fans at the 29,870-capacity Bay Arena.

”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, both England and New Zealand

need a win to have any realistic hope of progress, while Mexico’s

future participation is on the ropes.

”Mentally and physically we will have to recover from this

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

Leonardo Cuellar.

Japan pushed forward at pace when it had the ball and defended

with commitment without it.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Mexico captain Maribel

Dominguez. Early on, she was crowded off the ball, bringing an end

to a promising move instigated by Stephany Mayor on the right

wing.

Sawa deservedly put her side ahead shortly afterward, when she

was allowed get to Aya Miyama’s free kick to head past Cecilia

Santiago from close range.

A clever touch that took the ball past two defenders allowed

Ohno to fire high into the roof of the net two minutes later, after

the alert Yuki Nagasato laid the ball off.

Japan’s accurate passing and intelligent running off the ball

meant Mexico was being completely overrun in midfield.

Santiago did just enough to put Kozue Ando off when the Japan

forward was through on goal after a long ball forward in the

24th.

With half an hour played, fans began a series of Mexican waves,

in a cruel twist for the beleaguered Mexicans on the field.

Dominguez found herself alone facing three Japanese defenders in

the 33rd 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 a Miyama corner –

effectively killed the game in the 39th.

Santiago should not have been beaten at the near post, but the

competition’s youngest ever goalkeeper – she was 16 years and 251

days old for the draw with England – was left badly exposed by her

weak defense.

In a rare instance of good fortune for the Mexicans, Nagasato

had an effort wrongly ruled out for offside before the

interval.

Mayor brought a smart save from Kaihori in the 49th, as Mexico

sought a response, but still Japan pushed forward.

Nagasato’s shot was deflected onto the post in the 56th, with

Miyama hitting the crossbar from the resultant corner.

Cuellar appeared to wave the white flag when he took off the

ineffective Dominguez for Kenti Robles – a defender – in the

62nd.

”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 explained. ”She is a strong-willed player and she

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

His counterpart, meanwhile, warned against the rising

expectations surrounding his side.

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

winner, but we need to go step by step,” Norio Sasaki said.

”We are continuously improving. It’s an ongoing process and we

would like to get even better.”

Lineups:

Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Azusa

Iwashimizu, Yukari Kinga, Aya Miyama, Homare Sawa (Rumi Utsugi,

83), Mizuho Sakaguchi, Shinobu Ohno (Nahomi Kawasumi, 69), Yuki

Nagasato, Kozue Ando (Mana Iwabuchi, 69).

Mexico: Cecilia Santiago, Luz del Rosario Saucedo, Alina

Garciamendez, Natalie Garcia, Natalie Vinti, Nayeli Rangel (Liliana

Mercado, 46), Dinora Garza, Monica Ocampo, Veronica Perez (Teresa

Noyola, 79), Stephany Mayor, Maribel Dominguez (Kenti Robles,

62).

Referee: Christina Pedersen, Norway.