Spain edge past Japan and are virtually in the quarter finals

Pedro López's team recorded an historic win over one of the big favourites in Papua New Guinea. Mariona scored the game's only goal from the penalty spot with nine minutes remaining. Spain v Colombia

Spain edge past Japan and are virtually in the quarter finals
Getty Images

Famous win

Spain's Under-20s got the tonic they have been waiting two years for after beating Japan, one of the big favourites to win this edition of the World Cup in today's meetings at Bava Park.  It turned out to be  an extremely closely-fought game and that was reflected on the score board. Pedro López had primed his players for an encounter in which they would need intensity from start to finish both at the back and whenever they lost possession. Two years after losing the U17 final to the same rivals in Costa Rica, Spain managed to get even.

Penalty awarded

But they had to wait until the final minutes for a breakthrough. On 81 minutes, María Bores' free-kick struck Haza on the thigh but the player gestured with her arm and for that reason a penalty was awarded. López looked away as Mariona beat Hirao from 11 yards to hand Spain a vital win and put them top of Group B and practically assured of a place in the quarter finals ahead of Sunday's final group game against Nigeria.

Maria Caldentey wheels away

Psychological barrier lifted

Coach Pedro López said afterwards: "Now we have managed to beat Japan, we will view them in a different way. I’m sure this victory will give the girls extra confidence and make them play even better than they did today. At the start, the tension, fear and respect they had for Japan limited them, but I am very proud of them – as a group they give everything they’ve got and if they continue this way, I think they can go far”