Japan defeated Spain 3-1 to win their first-ever FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup crown in Vannes on Friday evening. This result at France 2018 keeps the trophy in Asia after Korea DPR won the title two years ago in Papua New Guinea.

The first half at the Stade de la Rabine was dominated in possession and chances by the European U-19 champions, but with the Japanese finding the scoresheet first.

When called upon, Hannah Stambaugh has made important saves for the Young Nadeshiko at this tournament. She was on hand again to deny Patri Guijarro in the early stages before brilliantly denying Maite Oroz finding the top corner, then Eva Navarro before the break.

Despite being on the back foot for most of the half, Japan stunned La Rojita by taking the lead against the run of play on 38 minutes. Having shown a desire to shoot from distance, as she did in hitting the crossbar against England in the semi-finals, Hinata Miyazawa found the target this time with her right foot, leaving the outstretched Catalina Coll with little chance to make the save.

Taking the lead inspired the East Asians to push forward, and only a fine point-blank save from Coll denied the Japanese a second goal before the break through Jun Endo.

When the chances have come for Futoshi Ikeda’s side, they have been highly efficient in taking them in the knockout stages of France 2018, and with a bit of quality as well. On 57 minutes, Saori Takarada doubled Japan’s lead with an assured finish after being released in on the Spain goal by a neat Riko Ueki flicked pass, with her back to goal.

Having claimed control of the contest, the Japanese looked more confident with their play. That best summed up their third goal on 65 minutes. Takarada turned supplier for Fuka Nagano on the right of the Spain box. Her superb first-time shot flew over Coll and into the net.

There was a reply from Pedro Lopez’s side, however. Candela Andujar pulled a goal back on 71 minutes for Spain before Stambaugh tipped Claudia Pina’s shot on to the crossbar two minutes later.

That was as far as the Spanish comeback efforts would reach, as Japan added to last year’s Asian U-19 title with a maiden world crown in this age category.


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