All good things must come to an end — even when those enjoying the ride most aren’t quite ready to disembark.

So it went for Nadeshiko Japan’s hopes of winning a second FIFA World Cup, silenced on a chilly Friday night in Auckland by a dominant Sweden that won not by neutralizing their opponents’ playbook, but by executing it better and using their physicality, height and superior technique to eliminate Japan in a second straight major international competition.

After four games of technically brilliant and visually dazzling soccer under head coach Futoshi Ikeda, Japan looked unusually tentative for much of the first half against the world No. 3 side, lacking the killer instinct it had demonstrated in the 4-0 rout of Spain or the dogged persistence of the round-of-16 victory over Norway.