Sawa, INAC advance to Empress Cup final

Kyodo

Homare Sawa will have the chance to end her illustrious career with a trophy after Kobe INAC Leonessa downed Vegalta Sendai Ladies 2-0 in the Empress Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

The 2011 FIFA World Women’s Player of the Year, who appeared in a record six World Cups and scored 83 goals in 205 games for Japan, showed awareness and composure in the middle of the pitch in her second match since announcing her retirement last week.

“I definitely wanted to reach the final to finish with a crowning glory, and with everyone smiling,” said Sawa, the 2011 Women’s World Cup top scorer and MVP. “They were all strong and took me to the final.”

Two of her Nadeshiko Japan teammates combined for INAC’s 39th-minute opener as Manami Takase flicked on a corner from the right for Shinobu Ono to nod home at Todoroki Stadium.

“We’re all fighting, trying to present the trophy to Sawa-san,” said Ono, who was also with Sawa at Nippon TV Beleza before they moved to INAC together ahead of the 2011 season.

INAC added a second on the hour mark when Nahomi Kawasumi’s well-timed through ball found Yukari Kinga, whose cut back was slotted home by Emi Nakajima to put the game to bed.