In the last set of quarterfinal matches, the reigning champions followed their script of one goal victories, knocking out the last Cinderella story, while the England-Canada match was a real cracker and possibly the most competitive match of the tournament after Germany-France.
Japan 1, Australia 0
Japan, in their usual fashion, managed a 1-0 win against another opponent to go on to the semifinal round of this World Cup. This game was dominated by possession of the Japanese team while Australia tried to keep up, but seemed always a step behind. Japan was in no rush to put the ball in the net and it took until the last few remaining minutes to do so. Mana Iwabuchi punished the Australian defense after they failed to clear a ball out of their box as she got a foot on it during the deflections.
Japan had several corner kicks in this game as they worked on their aggression in the air against bigger opponents. Australia played a hard fought match. A team like Japan is not something that the Matildas see very often. The team has also had little experience with time this far in a World Cup. Although they were outplayed throughout the entire match, Australia still had some moments of brilliance for being such a young and inexperienced team. Samantha Kerr, a young 21 year old, had plenty of shots on goals and scary moments for the Japanese. For a team that does not have as developed a women’s soccer program as most who made the quarterfinals, Australia went farther and stuck longer with the returning champions in this World Cup.
England 2, Canada 1
In front of a lively and large home crowd for Canada, both teams came out firing in the opening moments, but England was the first to strike after a defensive mistake in the 11th minute of play. Forward Jodie Taylor applied quick and hard pressure on the Canadian back line, forcing the center back to lose the ball for a turnover, which she quickly dribbled down the center of the field for a 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Taylor finished the ball into the side netting from distance for the first and surprising goal. Soon after, Canada was beaten again in the 15th minute when defender Lucy Bronze headed the ball off the crossbar and into the goal from a long ball over the top of the Canadian defensive line.
It looked like the game was already lost for Canada as the first half was coming to a close, but captain and veteran Christine Sinclair found herself at the right place at the right time and gave the home side life. After a low shot from a forward, the English keeper, Karen Bardsley, fumbled the ball and spilled it right into the path of Sinclair, who quickly reacted to get the ball out from under her and into goal in the 42nd minute. England went into the second half barely holding onto a 2-1 lead.
With advancement the reward and elimination the danger, the second half was much of the same intensity, minus the goals. The dedication and effort could be seen in each team as they battled for every ball and every shot on goal. With five minutes added on for injury time, Canada scrambled and tried to hold off the English attack. By the time the whistle blew, both teams were beyond exhausted and England found themselves making it through to the semifinal game for the first time in the World Cup history. They will play the returning champs, Japan in the semifinal game. Canada, on the other hand, find themselves out of the tournament and severely disappointed, although certainly not from a lack of effort or desire.