Spain, Japan set up U-20 women's final showdown
Spain and Japan will play in the final of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup after winning their semi-finals in France on Monday evening.
Japan sealed their place after powering past England 2-0 in Vannes, through first-half goals by Riko Ueki and Jun Endo.
The teams were met by a sunny afternoon at the Stade de la Rabine, and it was the Young Nadeshiko who put in the more polished display. Chloe Kelly could have put England up within two minutes of kick-off, but that was pretty much as good as it got for Mo Marley's side.
Japan's composure was rewarded 22 minutes in when Ueki scored her fifth goal of France 2018 with a low right-footed shot from inside the penalty area.
They then doubled their lead five minutes later, when Endo scored her second goal in as many games -- heading into an empty net on the rebound after Hinata Miyazawa powered a fine strike off the England crossbar.
As it happened, The Young Nadeshiko could have been three-up on 34 minutes after Fuka Nagano hit the post with a curling finish from close range.
England's efforts to get back into the match came to nought because Japan's organisation and work rate remained determined throughout, so much so that the Young Lionesses managed only one decent effort in the second stanza.
The victory for Futoshi Ikeda's side ensures Japan's maiden appearance in the final of this competition.
The second semi-final which followed was a more closely-fought contest as Spain ended hosts France's chances through a 1-0 win, the lone goal coming from Patri Guijarro in the second half.
The first half action was understandably passionate with the few chances created being overshadowed by the numerous fouls given away by both teams; so much so that Honduran referee Melissa Borjas' patience was tested enough for her to caution a player from each.
Initially it was much the same once the teams switched sides until captain Patri broke the deadlock on 51 minutes. Lucia Rodriguez's cross from the right found the head of Spain's captain, who nodded home her tournament-leading sixth goal of France 2018.
Going behind seemed to spark France into life as they started placing the Spanish defence under more and more pressure. This eventually told when Aitana Bonmati received her second caution in the 69th minute to leave La Rojita playing the final quarter with ten players -- interestingly it was the first red card of the tournament.
France then were handed a glorious chance to level matters when they were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, Spain centre-back Laia Aleixandri adjudged to have handled in her own box. Marie-Antoinette Katoto took the spot-kick for Les Bleuettes, but Coll did brilliantly to deny her.
Despite the setback, France continued to press Spain in the final stages, but to no avail as Pedro López Muñoz's side reached their maiden U-20 Women's World Cup final (at only their third attempt).
While Spain will meet Japan in Vannes on Friday evening, hosts France will face England earlier in the afternoon.