Japan kept their dreams alive of winning the U-20 on home soil by defeating rivals Korea Republic in an exciting affair in Tokyo.
Buoyed on by the 24,000 strong partisan crowd, Japan got off to a superb start scoring after eight minutes when Asuka Nishikawa slipped in Hanae Shibata with a wonderfully weighted pass. The midfielder, who already has one goal to her name in the tournament, toe poked the ball past onrushing keeper Jeon to the delight of the crowd.
However, Korea Republic was not going to leave without putting up a fight, and managed to get back on level terms within ten minutes. Korean winger Lee received the ball on the left hand side of the box, and beat the Japanese right-back with a delightful step-over, before delivering an inch-perfect cross for forward Jeoun to head into an empty net. It was the forwards fourth goal of the U-20s.
But Japan refused to allow their neighbors to spoil the party, and duly got themselves back ahead after only four minutes. Shibata was once again the goal scorer, picking the ball up on the edge of the box, and then unleashing an unstoppable shot which came off the inside of the left-hand post to give the Nadeshiko the lead for the second time in the game.
Korea’s hope of salvaging anything from the game took a severe blow just before the interval, when Japan midfielder Hikari Tagaki beat one defender, and raced towards the byline, before cutting a sublime cross across the box for Yoko Tanaka to score into an empty net at the back post.
The second half was a much duller affair than the first, as both teams found chances hard to come by. Korea Republic pushed for a goal late on, but was unable to break down the Japanese defense, and when the final whistle sounded the 24,000 crowd let out a rapturous cheer.
Japan will now face the winner of tomorrow quarter-final between Germany and Norway next week in Tokyo.
Nigeria vs Mexico 1:0 a.e.t
Japan vs South Korea 3:1
Korean DPR vs USA
Germany vs Norway