Hinata Miyazawa is taking the Women’s World Cup by storm, spearheading a clinical Japan that has looked capable of picking any opponent apart on the way to the quarterfinals.
Miyazawa bagged her fifth goal of the tournament in Wellington on Saturday night, putting the sealing touch on a 3-1 win over Norway in the Round of 16.
Norway had no answers for a relentless Japan outfit that in truth looked the only likely victor in the second half of the knockout clash; Miyazawa’s fifth World Cup goal in just four games put the result to bed – and her name on top of the golden boot leaderboard.
What makes that statistic even more remarkable is the fact Miyazawa had scored just four times in her previous 22 appearances for Japan.
In 2011, Japan won the World Cup, and Homare Sawa won the golden boot. Sawa’s five-goal tally was an all-time record at a World Cup for Japan – and Miyazawa has already equalled that tally before the quarterfinals.
Former United States international striker and 2019 World Cup winner Jessica McDonald was sat in the Optus Sport studio as Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament with just her sixth shot on target.
McDonald sent a warning to the world with her post-match summary of what she’s seeing from the Japanese forward at the tournament.
“World, watch out for this one!” She said. “She’s on the front foot. She’s on a roll.
“Once a striker starts scoring goals, it’s so hard to stop. Once you start gaining that momentum, once you start gaining that confidence in front of goal, and you’re scoring bangers every game? You don’t see that in a World Cup very often… I think it’s something (historic), and something beautiful to watch.”
Switzerland 1-5 Spain
Japan 3-1 Norway
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
MATCH REPORT: Japan slice Norway apart in clinical second-half display