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Japan storms past Norway 5-1 to qualify for quarterfinals
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09:28, August 13, 2008

Japan hammered a slack Norway side 5-1 at their last Group G match to qualify for the quarterfinals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic women's soccer tournamenthere on Tuesday.

The convincing win rewarded the Japanese a birth in the knockout matches as one of the best two third-placed teams with four points (the other oneis Canada of Group E), and they will meet hosts China (Group E leaders) in Qinhuangdao on Aug. 15 in the quarterfinals.

"We're happy with the three points we got and before the game we knew we must win," said Japan coach Norio Sasaki, adding that they won not because they performed fantastically, but because Norway lost their form today.However, Sasaki disagreed with the argument that Norway didn't play seriously. He emphasized that Japan had a stronger will to win.

Norway is seated at the second in Group G after the defeat, and has to play World Cup finalists Brazil in the quarterfinal, who topped Group F.The Nadeshiko had a fluorescent show the night facing the relaxed Norwegians, who seemed to be onholiday after beating the United States and New Zealand to get early qualification.

The Norwegians went ahead in the 28th minute when midfielder Guro Knutsen beat keeper Miho Fukumoto following captain Ane Stangeland Horpest's clinical through pass.

Then the game turned to be under Japanese reign. Yukari Kinga levelled for Japan merely three minutes later when she ghosted at the far post to volley midfielder Aya Miyama's left-wing cross into the open net.

"I was satisfied when we scored the first goal as it's very important to score first. But Japan is avery good team, and they go forward very fast. I didn't expect that their first goal came so soon."

Norway boss Bjame Berntsen showed his disappointment, especially at their second half.After Kozue Ando and Shinobu Ohno quickly fired two goals in one minute after the break, captain Homare Sawa and substitute Ayumi Hara added the other two goals.

The Scandinavians should feel lucky as they avoided further humiliation after the Nadeshiko squandered several clear chances.

"We have to forget this match as soon as possibleso as to focus on our next match against Brazil inthe quarterfinals," said Berntsen with a let-bygones-be-bygones look.

His Japanese counterpart also looked forward to their next game with host China, who qualified from the group at first place.

"We played China twice this year, with one win and one defeat. Now we're prepared very well," said Sasaki.


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