— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) March 28, 2014
Venezuela opened the quarterfinals of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica with a tightly fought victory over Canada on Thursday afternoon. The Vinotinto held off the Canadians, 3-2, to become the first team to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.
In the evening matches, Italy squeaked by Ghana and Japan crushed Mexico to claim their own spots in the penultimate round. Italy edged Ghana on penalty kicks (4-3) after the Black Maidens scored in the 90th minute to tie the game, 2-2. Meanwhile, Japan had no trouble with Mexico in the Asian squad’s 3-0 triumph.
During the final match of the night, Spain shut down Nigeria, 3-0, as the Spaniards took the last semifinals berth.
The final four is set for Monday in Liberia, the capital of the northwest province of Guanacaste. Japan and Venezuela clash first at 5 p.m., followed by a meeting between European rivals Italy and Spain at 8 p.m.
The matches at Edgardo Baltodano Briceño Stadium are both sold out. Tickets are available for the championship and third-place game on April 4 at the National Stadium in west San José.
Costa Rica’s under-17 women’s team was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup, but not before breaking attendance records at the tournament.