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Glory for Young Nadeshiko: The crucial moments


Saturday, August 25, 2018
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Vannes: As Japan basks in the glory of becoming FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup champions for the first time, the-AFC.com looks back on the pivotal moments of their campaign.


While Japan, undoubtedly, played their best football in the 3-1 win over Spain in Friday's final, their journey to the final had several key moments.


Hayashi's howitzer

Japan 1-0 United States: Group C, Matchday One

In a match which many fans expected to produce Group C's two quarter-finalists, the Young Nadeshiko claimed three crucial points thanks to a spectacular moment on invention from Honoka Hayashi.

The Cerezo Osaka midfielder saw US goalkeeper Laurel Ivory off her line and rattled in a magnificent 35-yard effort from which the three-time champions never really recovered, with a 2-2 draw against Spain a week later sealing their group stage elimination.

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Spanish setback

Spain 1-0 Japan: Group C, Matchday Two

Japan remained stuck on three points after Spain took an early lead through Carmen Menayo, then defended excellently to ensure they maintained it.

The match would serve as a vital lesson for Futoshi Ikeda's side, with many Young Nadeshiko players making reference to the group stage defeat after earning revenge against Spain in the final two weeks later.


Saori Takarada and Jun Endo run riot

Japan 6-0 Paraguay: Group C, Matchday Three

The strike duo scored six goals between them, each netting a hat-trick, as Japan thrashed Paraguay to confirm their progression to the knockout stage.

While the finishing was of the highest quality, a magnificent Jun Endo was arguably the game's best player - providing four assists in a devastating display down the left hand side as Japan ensured they would enter the quarter-finals full of momentum.


Endo edges Japan ahead

Germany 1-3 Japan: Quarter-final

Drawn against unbeaten three-time champions Germany, Japan performed strongly in the first half but remained deadlocked at 0-0 after nearly an hour of play, but Endo's 59th minute goal was the beginning of a brilliant purple patch for the Asian champions.

The 18-year-old starlet brilliantly cut inside German defender Sophia Kleinherne, before dispatching a curling effort into the top corner.

The goal was a circuit breaker, and 15 minutes later Japan were 3-0 up and heading for the semi-finals.


First-half flourish seals final berth

England 0-2 Japan: Semi-final

Of all the superb football produced by Japan in Brittany, it is their first half against England which perhaps stands as their most brilliant spell of the tournament.

Against an unbeaten England, who were the competition's top scorers going into the game, Japan were imperious, completely controlling early proceedings as the Ueki, Endo and Takarada show reached new heights in Vannes.

Early goals to Ueki and Endo effectively sealed victory for the East Asians, who had never previously reached the final.


Magnificent Miyazawa changes course of final

Despite their brilliant form in the build-up, Japan struggled for long periods of the opening half and could have easily fallen behind to any of a number of Spanish scoring chances.

But Japan held on, then changed the trajectory of the final completely when NTV Beleza's Hinata Miyazawa slammed home a sensational long range effort shortly before half-time.

In an instant, the momentum shifted in Japan's favour and - with further goals from Takarada and Fuka Nagano following after the interval - they became worthy world champions.

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images