Sunday 19 August 2018, 21:33

Japan and Spain reach their first final

  • ​Japan and Spain reach a U-20 Women’s World Cup final for the first time

  • Spain defeat the hosts France in thrilling semi-final

  • England and France will battle it out for third place​

THE DAY REPLAYED - Japan and Spain will contest the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 after getting the better of England and France respectively in their semi-finals. Yet, these simple facts tell only part of the story on a day when fans were treated to two enthralling last-four encounters.

In the day’s first semi-final, Japan picked up where they left off after their impressive performance against Germany in the quarter-finals. The Young Nadeshiko barely gave England a chance to settle into the game and demonstrated exactly why Silvia Neid, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach 2016, picked them as her favourites to lift the trophy in France.

The second match of the day was an intense tussle between two European sides. While the French controlled large parts of the game and created significantly better goalscoring opportunities, Spain took their chance when it came to secure their place in the final.

Results Semi-finals - Vannes England 0-2 Japan France 0-1 Spain

Memorable moments

Asia versus Europe...again... This year’s final will be the third time that teams from Asia and Europe have battled for the trophy at a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The Europeans emerged victorious when Germany faced China PR in 2004 before Korea DPR got the upper hand against France in Papua New Guinea in 2016. They say that all good things come in threes, and now Japan and Spain are dreaming of glory. On Friday evening, we will find out who has the best U-20 women’s side in the world...

When one streak ends, another begins It was ultimately not meant to be for Georgia Stanway. After scoring in four successive matches, England’s No10 could not find the target in her side’s semi-final defeat to Japan. Meanwhile, her opponent Riko Ueki has started a run of her own. Despite failing to score in her first two games, the striker netted a hat-trick against Paraguay and got her name on the scoresheet against both Germany and England.

History repeats itself Regardless of who lifts the trophy on Friday, Spain have already made history by reaching their first U-20 Women’s World Cup final – and if they win the match, they will go one further. While La Rojita have never won a Women’s World Cup at any level, three members of the current squad – Patri Guijarro, Carmen Menayo and Aitana Bonmati – have valuable experience of a World Cup final after reaching the tournament decider at the U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014 in Costa Rica. Their opponents that day were none other than Japan. Spain will head into the game with confidence, having already beaten their Asian rivals 1-0 during the group stage.

Seeing red for the first time It took until the semi-finals of this tournament for a referee to reach for a red card. Aitana Bonmati was given her marching orders after receiving a second yellow card for a wayward challenge on Selma Bacha in the 69th minute of the second semi-final between France and Spain.

The words "I came here to try and win this World Cup and to try and make history in Japanese women’s football." Japan forward Riko Ueki

Follow France 2018

Up next

Friday 24 August

Play-off for third place France-England, Vannes, 16:00 (local time)

Final Spain-Japan, Vannes, 19:30 (local time)