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Japan cruises to 5-0 opening win over Zambia at Women’s World Cup

Japan's midfielder #13 Jun Endo celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal (AFP).
Japan's midfielder #13 Jun Endo celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal (AFP).
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22 Jul 2023 06:07:14 GMT9
22 Jul 2023 06:07:14 GMT9

New Zealand: Hinata Miyazawa scored a pair of goals, while Mina Tanaka and Jun Endo each added a goal and an assist, as Japan shut out Zambia 5-0 to open Women’s World Cup play Saturday for both sides.

Miyazawa found the back of the net with one-time finishes on either side of halftime to secure an easy win over the Copper Queens in what was their World Cup debut.

Tanaka, denied goals twice on offside calls, scored in similar fashion in the 55th minute, assisted by Endo.

Endo then scored in the 71st minute, finding herself alone on the left side of goalkeeper Catherine Musonda’s goal and slotting home a left-footed strike.

Japan’s midfielder #13 Jun Endo celebrates scoring the team’s fourth goal (AFP).

Not only did Tanaka see two goals called back by VAR for offside, the Nakeshido were awarded an early second-half penalty only to see it rescinded for yet another offside call.

The Group C clash was the first time a senior World Cup match was hosted at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium. Saturday’s attendance of 16,111 nearly filled the stadium that holds just over 18,000.

Zambia struggled to find its footing in its World Cup debut. Star striker Barbra Banda found herself isolated at the top of the pitch and marked by three Japanese defenders for much of the night.

Deep into second-half injury time, the Copper Queens’ fortunes went from bad to worse as goalkeeper Catherine Musonda, who started the match in place of an injured Hazel Nali, was sent off with a second yellow card for a foul in the box.

Initially, Riko Ueki’s penalty hit the underside of the crossbar, but VAR ruled the penalty be retaken for goalkeeper encroachment. Ueki sent her second chance into the lower right corner of the net.

Japan’s forward #09 Riko Ueki celebrates after scoring a penalty and the team’s fifth goal (AFP).

Aoba Fujino nearly scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the match, but it was her ranging run and subsequent assist in the 43rd minute that put Japan in control. The victory was Fujino’s first World Cup match and first assist for her country at just 19 years old.

Japan now sits first in Group C, ahead of Spain on goals scored, and the Nakeshido remain unbeaten in opening World Cup matches since 1995. With a loss and five goals to the bad on goal differential, Zambia faces a longshot fight to qualify for the round of 16 with Spain and Costa Rica as its next opponents.

Japan will travel to Dunedin to face Costa Rica, who were shut out 3-0 in a poor showing against Spain. Zambia will take on a confident La Roja in its second match of the group stage in Auckland. Both matches will be played on Wednesday.


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