Iwabuchi lifts Japan into semifinals
EDMONTON, Alberta — Japanese coach Norio Sasaki couldn't resist making a joke at Mana Iwabuchi's expense when explaining his decision to substitute the forward in during the second half against Australia on Saturday.
Iwabuchi, Sasaki said with a laugh, went from "not yet" to right now.
Some 15 minutes after entering the game, Iwabuchi scored during a scramble in front in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals Saturday.
"Her first name is Mana. And in Japanese, 'Not yet, not yet,' would be 'mada,' so (the words) are very close," Sasaki said through a translator. "And it didn't take her too long as far as she's concerned."
The fourth-ranked Japanese will stay in Edmonton, where they will play England in the semifinals Wednesday. England beat Canada 2-1 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Patience and fresh legs paid off for the defending champions, as their ball-controlling style combined with the 90-degree temperatures gradually wore down the 10th-ranked Australians.
Iwabuchi had nearly scored a minute earlier, but her shot was blocked by Elise Kellond-Knight, which led to a corner kick.
Though Aya Miyama's corner kick was headed out of the penalty area, the ball bounced directly to Rumi Utsugi, who immediately sent it back toward the goal. Azusa Iwashimizu had her shot stopped by Lydia Williams, but the goalkeeper was unable to control the rebound.
The ball squirted to the left, where Iwabuchi knocked it the open side.
"The difficulty was the heat," said Utsugi, who was named player of the match for setting up the goal. "However, throughout the game, the resolve of all members to keep it up to the end was the challenge. However, we did manage to do that."
Japan is a perfect 5-0 in Canada, and has won eight straight since winning the 2011 tournament in Germany, when it beat the United Stated 2-2 in penalty kicks in the championship game. The Nedeshiko are now two victories from becoming the second nation to win consecutive tournaments after Germany won in 2003 and '07.
The Matildas go home after making their deepest run in tournament history. The 10th-ranked team won its first elimination game by upsetting seventh-ranked Brazil in the round of 16.
"Obviously disappointed at the result, but when you look at the big scheme of things, we lost 1-0," coach Alen Stajcic said. "It was 1-0 in the 88th minute off a scrappy corner. It's not as if we were humiliated."
ENGLAND 2, CANADA 1: At Vancouver, British Columbia, Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze scored in the shocking first 14 minutes, and England eliminated Canada from its home World Cup with a victory in the quarterfinals.
The Lionesses overcame a frenzied Canadian crowd at BC Place and a second-half goalkeeper change to secure their nation's first trip to the semifinals.
England crushed the hopes of a host nation hoping to celebrate Canada's first World Cup title on this same field next month.
Instead, England will face defending champion Japan in the semifinals in Edmonton, Alberta, on Wednesday — which also happens to be Canada Day.
Christine Sinclair scored in the 42nd minute for Canada, which had given up just one goal in the entire World Cup before giving up two more just three minutes apart.
After Taylor scored the opener on a horrible turnover by Lauren Sesselmann, Bronze added an impressive long header to build a lead that England never relinquished.
Although Sinclair got one back before halftime, Canada struggled to generate many good chances in the waning minutes of the scoreless second half. The drought slowly crushed the crowd of 54,027, most wearing red and supporting their plucky, defense-minded team.
Siobhan Chamberlain replaced England goalie Karen Bardsley early in the second half when Bardsley complained about a problem with her right eye. Chamberlain is on her third World Cup team, but got about 30 seconds to warm up for her first appearance.
England's surge into the quarterfinals has raised attention to the perpetually overlooked Lionesses, and the strong backing of Prince William further increased the spotlight. Now they're two wins away from their first World Cup — something their male counterparts haven't won since 1966.
The sellout crowd banged drums and sang as it welcomed Canada back to Vancouver, where it beat Switzerland 1-0 last weekend to reach its first quarterfinal since 2003.