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Spain Vanquishes Japan in FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final

Young Nadeshiko trailed 3-0 at halftime in a rematch of the 2018 championship match, and a spirited comeback attempt in the second half came up short.

Japan's players pose for a group photo after finishing second in the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in San Jose, Costa Rica, on August 28. (KYODO)

Spain scored three goals before 30 minutes had elapsed and held onto its commanding advantage for the rest of the match against Japan in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final.

Manager Pedro Lopez’s team captured the world title with a 3-1 triumph in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Sunday, August 28. Winning the event for the first time, Spain also avenged its 3-1 loss to Japan in the 2018 tournament final in France.

Inma Gabarro put Spain ahead 1-0 in the 12th minute. Salma Paralluelo scored in the 22nd and 27th minutes, the latter of which was a penalty.

Midfielder Suzu Amano, who entered the match as a second-half substitute, notched Japan’s lone goal in the 47th minute.

For the past decade, Young Nadeshiko, Japan’s U-20 national team, has been a consistent medal contender in this tournament. Japan was the third-place finisher in 2012 and 2016. (The 2020 event was canceled due to the global pandemic.)

This time, Spain’s strong start was too much for Japan to overcome at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.

Japan outshot Spain 15-8 and held possession 58% of the time.

Japan manager Futoshi Ikeda said his team improved throughout the 16-nation tournament, which he stated was an encouraging sign.

"One game after another, the players became stronger,” Ikeda said, according to the Japanese website Football Zone. “They showed a sense of unity both on and off the pitch, while facing football with sincerity.”

Despite the loss, Ikeda added that he has high hopes for the squad, saying, “I think the progress of the players will continue.”

Spain’s Players Overcome by Shock

“I’m in shock. I can't believe what we achieved,” Gabarro gushed after the match. “We are an incredible team. I have no words to describe what we did. To win a World Cup, right now I can't believe it. I don't understand what just happened. I have the medal hanging around my neck and I'm still in shock. It's going to take me a few days to believe that I'm a world champion.”

Paralluelo, who was named the Player of the Match, added: “This is unbelievable. It leaves you in shock because it's something so big that it's hard to get your head around. I'm happy for the goals, for how we played, for how we fought. I am proud of the whole team.”

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Insights on Japan’s Style of Play

As his team prepared for its second consecutive appearance in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final, Ikeda described Young Nadeshiko’s style of play.

“Our team plays all out. They run a lot,” Ikeda was quoted as saying by The Tico Times, a Costa Rican newspaper, on Sunday. “And there is no secret to share, it has to do with their love for football, for scoring goals, and they genuinely play with smiles on their faces. They head for goal with happiness; they run as much as they can. To my players, I ask them to try to play every game with joy.”

Ikeda primarily serves as manager of Nadeshiko Japan, the women’s senior national team.

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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