End of the World for brave Ireland
Republic of Ireland 1
The Republic of Ireland's Women's U17 World Cup hopes were ended by a strong Japanese side in last night's quarter-final in Trinidad.
After a heroic run in the event, Noel King's side were dealt a blow in the 34th minute when Canadian referee Michelle Pye gifted a penalty to Japan, which Maomoto scored.
But Ireland hit back in the 53rd minute through Denise O'Sullivan, who was in sensational form for the Irish throughout.
However, Japan's top goalscorer, Yokohama, was on-hand in the 67th minute to score a marvellous goal to send Japan through to the semi-final, while Ireland head home.
Ireland started brightly and they had the game's first real chance as Dora Gorman forced a save from keeper Hirao after two minutes.
Yokohama went close for Japan in the 16th minute when she unleashed a powerful effort at Grace Moloney, but the Irish keeper was well positioned to save. Yokohama was once again causing problems in Ireland's defence two minutes later, but her shot went just wide.
Ireland went close minutes later through Siobhán Killeen and O'Sullivan. In the 20th minute, Killeen showed a remarkable turn of pace to beat her defender, but her shot from distance was saved by the Japanese keeper. Three minutes later, the ever-dangerous O'Sullivan showed great skill on the edge of the box but her effort was once again saved by Hirao.
Moments later, Irish defender Megan Campbell went close with her free-kick from 30 yards but, almost instantly, Japan broke and Nakada fired her shot wide from 10 yards.
The Japanese defence was having trouble dealing with the attacking threat of the Irish and Killeen almost capitalised in the 33rd minute when she intercepted the ball in the middle of the field, but her effort from 25 yards was again saved by the Japanese keeper.
Japan were in front a minute later, though, when Campbell was adjudged to have fouled Yokohama and Maomoto stepped up to force her spot-kick past the out-stretched Moloney. Much to the amazement of the crowd, Pye's decision was made even more controversial when her linesperson signalled for a corner, with no penalty appeals from the Japanese.
Yokohama could have doubled Japan's lead in the 39th minute but Moloney was on-hand yet again to make a remarkable save.
Japan finished the second half strongly and they had two glorious opportunities to extend the lead as Jennifer Byrne made a fantastic last-ditch block on Kawashima, while Moloney made a point-blank save from Kato, who had the goal at her mercy.
Ireland emerged invigorated after half-time and they had several chances early on as Campbell and Jessica Gleeson each went close with long-range free-kicks.
However, Ireland were level in the 53rd minute when Stacie Donnelly played a teasing ball over the top of Japan's defence and, as goalkeeper Hirao and her defender Takagi collided on the edge of the box, O'Sullivan nipped in to hit the ball into an empty net.
Japan regained the lead in the 67th minute, however, in what was a remarkable move after Ireland came agonisingly close from a corner kick. Japan broke on a counter attack, played in Yokohama, who turned Ciara O'Brien, and she unleashed an unstoppable shot from 15 yards, giving Moloney no chance.
From there on in, Ireland were on the front foot as they went in search of an equaliser. Campbell went close once again with a free-kick from 25 yards, again saved by Hirao, but they could find no way through and Japan held on to book their semi-final place.
Republic of Ireland: Grace Moloney, Ciara O'Brien, Megan Campbell, Jessica Gleeson, Jennifer Byrne, Ciara Grant, Aileen Gilroy, Dora Gorman (C), Denise O'Sullivan, Siobhán Killeen, Stacie Donnelly. Subs: Zoe Boyd, Rianna Jarrett (on for Gilroy, 70 mins), Tanya Kennedy (on for Donnelly, 89 mins), Kerry Glynn, Amanda Budden, Claire Shine, Harriet Scott (on for Killeen, 89 mins), Rebecca Kearney, Jillian Maloney, Emma Hansberry.
Japan: E Hirao (C), N Wada, A Nakada, H Naomoto, Y Tanaka, H Kamashima, T Kawashima, H Hamada, H Takagi, C Kato, K Yokoyama. Subs: S Kashimoto, M Kanazawa, Y Nagasawa, M Kyokawa, M Tanaka, A Mochizuki, Y Honda, A Goto, H Nagashima, Isayo Mita
Referee: M Pye (Canada)