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Spain thrashes Switzerland at Women’s World Cup despite bizarre own goal, while Japan beats Norway

Women’s World Cup 2023: Live scores, fixtures, results, tables and top scorers

Spain overcame a bizarre long-range own goal to thrash Switzerland 5-1 and advance to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, while Japan continued to impress in a 3-1 victory over Norway.

Spain defender Laia Codina’s back pass from close to the halfway line wrong-footed her goalkeeper to give Switzerland a surprise equalizer, but a brace from Aitana Bonmatí helped Spain recover and race to victory.

Later on Saturday, a formidable Japan beat 1995 champion Norway in Wellington.

Ingrid Syrstad Engen’s own goal gave Japan a well-deserved lead early on before Norway equalized soon after through Guro Reiten’s header.

However, Japan regained the advantage thanks to Risa Shimizu’s deflected strike before Hinata Miyazawa, in the 81st minute, sealed her country’s place in the next round.

Spain will next face either the Netherlands or South Africa in the quarterfinals, while Japan will take on either Sweden or the US, who play each other in Melbourne on Sunday.

Overcoming adversity

In front of 43,217 fans at Eden Park – a record crowd for a soccer match in New Zealand – four first-half goals had Spain in control early on, despite Codina’s own goal.

In the 11th minute, from just inside her own half, Spain defender Codina attempted a back-pass to her goalkeeper Cata Coll, but the goalkeeper had moved and was unable to stop the ball from going into the net.

It proved a minor blip for La Roja, one of the favorites to win the competition.

Bonmatí continued her excellent tournament, opening the scoring in the fifth minute with a powerful finish just moments after Switzerland goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann had pulled off a remarkable save to deny Alba Redondo from close range.

Despite Spain’s dominance, Codina’s own goal gave Switzerland a route back into the game.

To Spain’s credit, especially after the shock 4-0 loss suffered against Japan just days ago, the team showed no signs of nerves in the face of the setback.

Redondo did eventually get her goal to restore Spain’s lead, heading home in the 17th minute, before Bonmatí got her second of the game by bamboozling the Swiss defenders.

On the stroke of halftime, Codina made amends for her earlier own goal, poking the ball home from close range after a goalmouth scramble from a Spain corner.

The second half followed a familiar pattern, with Spain dominating possession and having the majority of the chances as Switzerland looked to craft openings on the break.

Jennifer Hermoso capped off the scoring with 20 minutes to go, capitalizing on some sloppy passing from Switzerland before curling home a delightful fifth.

Tournament favorites?

Japan has been arguably the best team at the Women’s World Cup so far.

The 2011 world champion started the tournament with little fanfare surrounding it, but secured top spot in Group C with ease, the highlight of which was the thrashing of Spain.

On paper, Norway – a team with world-class talent – looked a tricky opponent but Japan was comfortably the better side throughout.

And Japan took a deserved lead in the 15th minute when Syrstad Engen – in an attempt to control a cross – deflected the ball into her own net with Norway goalkeeper Aurora Mikalsen scrambling.

Despite being thoroughly outplayed, Norway found a route back into the game just minutes later through Reiten’s perfectly-placed header against the run of play.

Japan was confident on the ball and worked hard when without possession, while Norway struggled to create openings.

Shortly after the break, Japan again regained the lead – Shimizu pouncing on a misplaced backpass from Norway midfielder Vilde Bøe Risa in her own box. The 27-year-old’s close-range strike was deflected in.

Japan continued to create chances as the team attacked with precision an fluidity and it was a slick move which led to Miyazawa’s fifth goal of the tournament – matching the record tally for a Japanese player at a World Cup.

Ada Hegerberg came on as a substitute in an attempt to provide Norway with some attacking thrust – but the Norwegians struggled to break down an organized Japan team.

Even when it created a good opening, it found Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita in inspired form as she somehow clawed away Karina Sævik’s powerful header in the game’s dying moments.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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