Japan and Mexico secured their places in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 following a 1-1 draw in their Group B finale in Maldonado on Tuesday.
A fairly even and competitive first half saw little to separate these two sides, for the most part, in the afternoon sunshine at the Estadio Domingo Burgueno Miguel.
However, five minutes before half-time, the Little Nadeshiko took the lead through a fine finish from the edge of the box by Momoka Kinoshita. Her left-footed curler beat Mexico goalkeeper Jaidy Gutierrez to put the Japanese in front at the break.
With Brazil winning comfortably in Tuesday’s other Group B match against South Africa in Montevideo, Mexico needed to find a way to get back on level terms. That desired equaliser arrived on 63 minutes, as Alison Gonzalez headed Anette Vazquez’s cross over the onrushing Shu Ohba in the Japan goal and into the empty net.
It made for an intriguing ending to the match, with Japan going close to restoring their lead through Chiina Kamiya, but Gutierrez made an important save to ensure the North American side’s position of making the last eight was assured.
The result saw Japan win Group B on goal difference from runners-up Mexico, despite both teams ending the group stage level on five points.