The shot-stopper scored from the spot and pulled off the decisive save as the English overcame stubborn Japan.
England had dominated their way into the Round of 16 by plowing through their opponents in Group F, while Japan had to fight their way into a second place finish in Group E. The Lions made six changes to their team, bringing back their first-teamers in the like of Phil Foden, George McEachran, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jonathan Panzo but were without star Jadon Sancho who had gone back to Borussia Dortmund. Japan also brought back their regulars, making eight changes with the former La Masia trainee Takefusa Kubo and striker Taisei Miyashiro returning to the team.
Watch England 0-0 (5-3 Pen) highlights here
England were the ones to start the attack, but they were almost caught out in the 4th minute when Japan won the ball in midfield and Kubo marauded ahead with the ball before laying it for Soichiro Kozuki, who hit a curling effort which was parried away by Curtis Anderson. England were the team with more possession, but they were being frustrated by the stubborn Japanese team. They pounced on a rare mistake from the Asians in the 14th minute when Angel Kosei’s Tani’s hands after Angel Gomes had stolen the ball outside Japan’s penalty area.
The young Lions were struggling to move through the left with the absence of Sancho but made a darting move through the right in the 26th minute when Phil Foden played a clever pass for Rhian Brewster, whose venomous shot hit the bar and out, much to the striker’s frustration. Japan weren’t attacking that much, but they looked really dangerous when they did and in the 37th minute found their way into the box as Keito Nakamura’s shot from close range was weak but fell in the path of Kozuki, who could only find the side-netting.
England were edging close to an opener and Callum Hudson-Odoi finally showed great movement through the left and crossed it for Phil Foden to let rip a darting shot which deflected out to hit the side-netting. The Lions went into the break frustrated by Japan, who were causing them some real problems on the counter-attack and turning out to be a very hard-nut to crack for the Lions.
Steve Cooper’s half-time team-talk seemed to have worked as England started the second half positively and almost broke the deadlock in the 48th minute when George McEachran’s stunning shot was saved brilliantly by Tani. The impressive English midfielder got another bite at the cherry five minutes later, but this time his shot was rather weak and off the mark. Takefusa Kubo was given space to run in midfield, but his shot was rather poor and shockingly off the mark. Japan were regaining some control as the match progressed but still were far from creating any real chances in the second half.
But the Asians showcased some flair in the 67th minute when captain Shimpei Fukoka played a fancy pass for Kubo, who rushed through on goal and hit a powerful shot which was well saved by Anderson. The crowd were vehemently shouting “attack attack attack” and Japan were doing just that, but were failing to break down England’s solid defense. They made an impressive move through the left with Kozuki finding Miyashiro, who hit straight at Anderson to make a comfortable save.
England were struggling to attack as the match progressed but substitutes Morgan Gibbs White and Emile Smith Rowe combined well in the 83rd minute when the former made a lobbed pass to the latter, who beat his man but his shot couldn’t beat the keeper. The Lions were inspired by that as they launched another attack two minutes later, this time Hudson-Odoi showing some good movement on the left and passing to the free Nya Kirby, whose shot was saved off the line by Japan’s defence.
Japan answered right back to that a few minutes later when Kubo played in a clever pass for Naoki Tsubaki, who passed it to Miyashiro whose shot was blocked away for a corner. That set-piece was a brilliant one for the Asians, with Kuba delivering a dangerous cross which had the English defence stunned but nobody could put the ball into the back of the neck. Both teams made ambitious attempts at goal through Kirby for England and Toichi Suzuki for Japan but were unable to break the deadlock at full time, forcing penalty shoot-outs for the first time in the tournament.
England won the toss and decided to take the first penalty, which Rhian Brewster calmly put into the bottom left corner. Yukinari Sagawara took the first penalty for his team and just beat Anderson to the right to make it 1-1. Hudson-Odoi took the next one for the Lions and just managed to beat Tani to the bottom left corner. Miyashiro took the next one for Japan and sent Anderson the wrong way by drilling the ball through the middle to make it 2-2.
Foden was the third penalty-taker for the Lions and sent Tani the wrong way by drifting the ball into the right. Hinata Kida was responsible for the third penalty for the Asians, but his spot-kick was saved brilliantly by Anderson. The heroic keeper showed confidence to take the next penalty and amazingly beat Tani to give England one-foot in the quarterfinals.
Kozuki took a penalty which was decisive for Japan’s chances in the match and didn’t disappoint by calmly putting it into the net. Nya Kirby was given the opportunity to take the next penalty which would win England the match if he scored it and he showed nerves of steel by beating Tani and sending the Three Lions into the quarter-finals, where they will face the USA.
Mali cruised to a 5-1 victory over Iraq in the Round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. With the win, the Chile 2015 runners-up will meet African opposition in the form of either Ghana or Niger in the quarter-finals in Guwahati on Saturday.
It was Les Aiglonnets that dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead through Hadji Drame on 25 minutes. Good work by Salam Jiddou on the left allowed the unmarked Drame to score the 2,000th goal in tournament history.
Watch Mali 5-1 Iraq highlights here
The Malians then doubled their advantage shortly after the half-hour mark, as Lassana N’Diaye made it four goals in as many matches when he headed home Djemoussa Traore’s cross at the near post.
The West Africans scored an emphatic third goal through Fode Konate in the second half. His powerful first-time strike from wide on the right flew past Iraq goalkeeper Ali Ibadi and into the roof of the net.
The Asians would get a consolation through Ali Kareem before Mali added two late goals through Seme Camara and a second strike from N’Diaye to seal a comfortable win in Goa.