Soccer isn't nicknamed "the beautiful game" for nothing, and in Tuesday night's 2–1 Round of 16 win over the Netherlands, Japan proved just that.
Leading 1–0 in the 78th minute, the Japanese followed up a defensive sequence in which they almost conceded by flipping the script and executing perhaps the best team combination play the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup has produced thus far. Deft, composed play in the Netherlands's 18-yard-box started with a back heel, a smartly played ball back to the center of the 18 and a clever dummy that gave Mizuho Sakaguchi the space she needed to curl a shot past Dutch goalkeeper Loes Geurts.
Saori Ariyoshi opened the scoring for Japan in the 10th minute, while Kirsten van de Ven brought one back for the Netherlands in stoppage time.
Defending World Cup champion Japan advances to the quarterfinals where it will take on Australia at 2 p.m. ET on June 27. The other six quarterfinalists are the United States, China, France, Germany, England and host country Canada.