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FIFAWWC: First-time champions to emerge as Sweden edge out Japan, Spain pip Holland

SWEDEN defeated Japan 2-1 in their FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final in Auckland, New Zealand today to ensure that the competition will have first-time winners on August 20, while Spain also advanced to the semi-finals by beating Holland with the same scoreline in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Swedes, who had beaten four-time champions United States of America in the round of 16, raced to a 2-0 lead against Japan and did not fold as the 2011 champions attempted to stage a late comeback.

Japan were seen as title contenders after easing through the group stage and cruising past Norway in the round of 16.

But the Asian powerhouses fell behind to Amanda Ilestedt’s goal in the 32nd minute and were two goals down 14 minutes from time when Filippa Angeldahl struck from the penalty spot.

Japan were then awarded a controversial penalty of their own, but Riko Ueki’s 76th-minute attempt hit the bar, before Honoka Hayashi pulled a goal back with three minutes left on the clock.

Japan have now followed all the former champions out of the tournament, with USA, Germany and Norway already eliminated.

Earlier, Salma Paralluelo came off the bench to score an extra-time winner as Spain beat the Netherlands to reach the tournament’s semi-finals for the first time.

Mariona Caldentey gave Spain a late lead when she converted an 80th-minute penalty after Stefanie van der Gragt handled in the box.

Van der Gragt then made amends for her error by firing home a stoppage-time equaliser — but Paralluelo found space in the box 20 minutes into extra-time to put Spain’s women into their first major semi-final for 26 years.

Spain and Sweden will face each other in the first semi-final in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday.

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