Japan and Spain have become the first teams to book their places in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. The two sides previously qualified for the knockout round after finishing first and second respectively in Group C. Japan took care of Norway on Saturday in a evenly matched fixture. Spain, on the other hand, dominated their Swiss opponents on the night.

Second-half goals propel Japan to quarterfinals

The Japanese took an early lead in their game thanks to an own goal by midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen. Norway would, however, fight back to level the scoreline just five minutes later though. The two teams would enter halftime with the match tied. Japan then put the game to bed with two second-half goals. Risa Shimizu scored five minutes after the break, while Hinata Miyazawa put the finishing touches on the victory in the 81st minute.

The United States women’s national team could be Japan’s next opponents. The Americans are set to face powerhouse Sweden in the round of 16 on Sunday. If they are to get by the Swedes, the USWNT would then face the Asian nation in the quarterfinal stage. Japan has so far only allowed one total goal at the tournament.

Spain came out firing after four first-half goals

Spain booked their place in the quarterfinals with a dominate showing against Switzerland. Aitana Bonmati put the Spanish side ahead after just five minutes on the clock. Although the Swiss would even the score just six minutes later, the match eventually become a one-sided affair. Spain added three more goals in the opening period to take a 4-1 lead into halftime. Jenni Hermoso scored the lone goal in the second half to cap a nearly perfect performance on the night.

The win for Spain means that they will next face the winner of the Netherlands and South Africa in the quarterfinals. The Dutch team is currently ranked ninth in the world by FIFA and topped Group E above the USWNT.

South Africa, however, shocked many by even advancing to the knockout round. They are currently ranked 54th by the governing body and finished second in Group G behind Sweden.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Xinhua