Japan provide a statement of intent in Hamilton
- Four second-half goals took the game beyond Zambia
- Nadeshiko are now the competition’s top scorers
- Zambia 0-5 Japan | Group C
- Goalscorer: Hinata Miyazawa (43′, 62′), Mina Tanaka (55′), Jun Endo (71′), Riko Ueki (90’+11′)
There was no fairy tale FIFA Women’s World Cup™ debut for Zambia, as a well-oiled Japan side took the spoils from their opening-day bout at Waikato Stadium.
Goals from Mina Tanaka, Jun Endo and Riko Ueki complemented a brace by Hinata Miyazawa to ensure the 2011 champions eased to victory and the summit of Group C.
Japan started brightly and came within a whisker of opening the scoring early on when Aoba Fujina rifled a shot towards goal from outside the area, but wicked swerve – and a feint touch by goalkeeper Catherine Musonda – diverted it on to the post. Mina Tanaka then thought she’d opened the scoring, but VAR correctly ruled her effort out for offside.
The Nadeshiko would finally break the deadlock just before half-time, when Fujina swung in a dangerous cross from the right, which Hinata Miyazawa confidently swept home to give her side a deserved lead.
Tanaka continued her personal feud with the technology early in the second half when she rightly had a second strike ruled out for offside. It would be third time lucky soon after, though, when she turned home a driven Jun Endo cross from six yards out.
The floodgates soon opened, allowing Miyazawa to tap home from a Tinaka cut-back, before Endo got in on the act herself with a fine run and finish do to make it four.
While the result was beyond all doubt, the game did finish in supreme drama, with Musonda sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling substitute Riko Euki. Reserve goalkeeper Eunice Sakala initially saved Ueki’s subsequent spot-kick, only for replays to show she was off her line, allowing the forward to turn home the re-take.
Following defeats for Republic of Ireland, the Philippines and Vietnam, Women’s World Cup newcomers are yet to pick up a point so far this tournament.
VISA Player of the Match
Hinata Miyazawa (Japan)