Japan’s final goal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ perfectly encapsulated the Nadeshiko’s playing style: the ball on the deck, short passing, quick interplay, a deft dummy – all capped off with a clinical finish.
Yui Hasegawa it was who kept her composure to calmly loft the ball over the onrushing Dutch keeper into the top corner, following an inch-perfect pass at the edge of the penalty area by the superb Mana Iwabuchi, who had shown great awareness to dummy a Dutch defender in the build-up.
Japan, who were slow off the blocks and rather wayward at the start of their Round of 16 clash with the Netherlands, found themselves a goal down after 17 minutes. Despite struggling to find their rhythm, they came into the game more as the half wore on and levelled things up with this beautifully crafted goal just before the break.
The 2011 world champions and 2015 runners-up played much better in the second half, but Sari van Veenendaal was simply immense in goal for the Dutch, displaying her full repertoire of saves that doubtless contributed to her subsequent adidas Golden Glove award for best keeper at France 2019.
And so the resilient Oranje rearguard and Lieke Martens’ composure from the penalty spot in the final minute brought the curtain down on Japan’s participation in this competition. That said, they departed in style, and perhaps with the goal of the tournament…
Does Hasegawa’s fantastic finish deserve the France 2019 Goal of the Tournament Award? You decide!