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
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
”I’m really, really surprised,” she added. ”I would like to
continue to contribute as much as possible to Japanese
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
”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
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
”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.”