China, Japan bow out, Europeans dominate Women's World Cup

Wednesday, 2019-06-26 06:58:04
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Sherida Spitse of the Netherlands celebrates on the final whistle during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Japan at Roazhon Park in Rennes, France on June 25, 2019. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Europeans are dominating the FIFA Women's World Cup in France as neither China nor Japan survived their last 16 encounters on Tuesday.

As the round of 16 matches were wrapped up, all teams qualifying for the knockouts as the best third-placed were sent packing and all the group leaders kept moving forward.

Defending champions United States came out the sole non-European team having reached the quarterfinals after Italy beat China 2-0 in Montpellier and the Netherlands edged Japan 2-1 in Rennes.

Thanks to a 90th minute penalty from star player Like Martens, the Dutch outplayed Japan, the 2011 champions and 2015 runners-up, and clinched their first quarterfinal berth at the quadrennial event.

It was also Martens who opened scoring for the Netherlands in the 17th minute, before Japan battled back with a lovely finish from Yui Hasegawa just before halftime.

Japan came back strong after the break and could have taken a lead first as Hina Sugita hit the crossbar on 79 minutes, before a last-minute penalty was awarded to the rivals with VAR confiming a handball by Saki Kumagai.

Earlier on Tuesday, Italy claimed a convincing victory over Jia Xiuquan's Chinese squad to make it through to their first World Cup quarterfinals since 1991.

Italy players celebrate after the Women's World Cup Round of 16 match between Italy and China at Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier, France on June 25, 2019. (Photo: Getty Images)

Milena Bertolini's side scored either side of the interval through AC Milan striker Valentina Giacinti and Juventus FC playmaker Aurora Galli, leaving the 1999 runners-up struggling on final dashes.

An error from China's defending line granted Italy the chance to break the deadlock on 15 minutes when Giacinti tabbed in a rebound.

Han Peng should have cleared it before Barbara Bonansea passed the ball through to Elisa Bartoli, who drove it towards the goal but was well saved by Chinese goalie Peng Shimeng, who conceded only one goal before Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Giacinti, playing as Italy's main point of attack and having a goal early ruled offside, sweetly stroked the loose ball in.

Four minutes into the second half, Galli doubled the lead with a powerful low strike from distance after the Le Azzurre's first-half substitute received the ball in a massive zone of space, took a touch and quickly launched the shot.

China enjoyed a 15-minute good spell at the end of the first half, but failed to turn any of their chances into real score though forcing out a dozen of great saves from Italian keeper Laura Giuliani.

With the 2-0 win, Italy's first World Cup campaign in 20 years continued and they will next face the Netherlands in Valenciennes on Saturday.