Japan’s two goals within two minutes of the first half proved enough to secure the 3 points over Costa Rica at the Dunedin Stadium.
Both goals were a result of driving into the box and being clinical against goal, something they lacked in the second half.
Japan entered their second fixture at this World Cup as clear favourites, filled with confidence after a comfortable 5-0 win over Zambia. Japan were looking to win their opening two games at a Women’s World Cup for the third time, having done so previously in 2011, when they won the tournament, and in 2015 as defending Champions- which they achieved!
Costa Rica had a contrasting start, as they were thoroughly outplayed by Spain in their opener. Their hopes going into this match was to win their first Women’s World Cup game, as well as keep a clean sheet.
Within 10 minutes of the whistle being blown, it was fairly obvious how comfortable Japan were in possession of the ball, as well as recovering the ball. An early chance for Japan in the box resulted in a goal kick, following a blocked tap-in from a fellow teammate.
Poor communication was soon a phrase of the past for Japan, as a through ball from Tanaka into the left-hand side of the box was received by Naomoto, who drove into the box until they released the ball perfectly into the net in the 25th minute.
Within just two minutes, Japan extended their lead to two goals, as Fujino drove in from the right side this time, and struck at goal from a tricky angle.
Japan’s domination in attacking play was highlighted by the interesting statistic of 11 attempts on goal within just 35 minutes.
Despite this, Costa Rica have shown promise in front of goal and have provided a crucial defence to prevent any further gap in the scoreline.
Japan enter the break in front with 2 goals to none.
Costa Rica came straight out of the blocks fighting when play resumed, with an increase in possession and chances, however Japan sat more deep, which prevented any early close shots for Costa Rica.
Japan’s intensity has decreased by the hour mark, so two changes were made- one being the second teenager goal scorer (Fujino) going onto the bench.
A close break just before the 70th minute nearly saw an own goal for Costa Rica, following poor communication with the keeper and defender, but luckily for them was cleared away for a Japanese corner.
The depth in japan’s squad proved to be effective, as the two substitutes that came on created many of the second half opportunities at goal.
With just 5 minutes of added time, Costa Rica will be pleased with a second half clean sheet, in which keeper Daniela Solera is a key player to thank for this.
This places Japan as leaders of the pack, whilst Costa Rica remain in third with just one game left each, but two for Spain and Zambia in their group. Costa Rica will take on Zambia, with the hope of securing their first win at a Women’s World Cup.