Women's World Cup Recap - Japan vs. United States|
(Sunday, July 17, 2011)
From The Sports Network
Final Score: Japan 2, United States 2 (ET)
Frankfurt, Germany (Sports Network) - Twelve years after the U.S. won its last
Women's World Cup in a shootout against China, it failed to recapture the same
magic on penalty kicks against Japan.
Goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori saved two penalty kicks in the shootout, just minutes
after Homare Sawa scored the tying goal late in extra time, and Japan defeated
the U.S. 3-1 on penalties Sunday after a 2-2 draw to win its first title.
Sawa answered Abby Wambach's extra-time goal for the U.S. with three minutes
to go in the second extra period and Kaihori saved penalties from Shannon Boxx
and Tobin Heath, and Carli Lloyd missed her attempt for the U.S.
Japan made three of its four penalties, and sealed the shootout win when Saki
Kumagai scored in the fourth round at Commerzbank-Arena.
"We have some very good players on the team and this is why we have been able
to win the final," said Kaihori. "I received excellent support from the other
players and I want to emphasis this is a team effort.
"In the penalty shootout I just had to believe in myself and I was very
Alex Morgan scored the first goal of the match in the 69th minute for the U.S.
but Aya Miyama tied the game for the first time in the 81st for Japan to force
Although the official result goes down as a draw, Japan's win on penalties was
its first against the U.S. in 26 all-time matches. The Americans had won 22 of
the 25 previous meetings, including three earlier this year.
"It will be a final to remember and credit to both teams," said U.S. coach Pia
The U.S. won its second World Cup in 1999 when it converted all five penalties
for a 5-4 shootout win over China after a 0-0 draw. The Americans also won the
World Cup in 1991.
Sundhage made two changes from the semifinal win against France by returning
Rachel Buehler to her spot in defense after she served a one-game suspension,
and handing super sub Megan Rapinoe her first start.
Rapinoe had a goal and an assist off the bench over the first five matches and
provided a spark from the opening whistle this time, as she broke into the box
inside 30 seconds, but was denied from a tight angle by Kaihori.
The early chance was a sign of things to come from the U.S., but the 11 shots
that followed in the first half all failed to find the target - including one
off the post and one off the crossbar.
Rapinoe continued to cause problems on the left side, and she made another run
into the area in the 18th but drove a shot off the near post. The U.S. waited
12 minutes for its next chance, but Wambach was also frustrated by the frame.
She broke down the left side and was on her favored left foot, but her rocket
crashed off the crossbar and bounced out, ending a dominant opening half-hour
for the Americans.
Japan finally settled in after the 30-minute mark, and its first good look at
goal nearly resulted in the opening score. Sawa had the final pass on a quick
attack in the 31st to an open Kozue Ando on the left, but she only sent a weak
shot toward the near post that U.S. goalie Hope Solo easily covered.
The U.S. ended the first half with another good chance from Lauren Cheney, who
flicked an open header from 12 yards just over the bar. Sundhage was forced to
remove Cheney at half because of an ankle injury but substitute Morgan made an
immediate impact off the bench.
Heather O'Reilly played a ball in from the right end line, and Morgan reached
the pass to poke a shot around Kaihori from close range only to find the post,
the third time the U.S. hit the woodwork in just 49 minutes.
After a brief lull in chances, Japan looked to have created the best chance of
the match for either side when Shinobu Ohno was played into acres of space in
the 64th, but the flag went up for offside, even though she clearly wasn't.
The U.S. responded with another chance on the other end, as Wambach reached a
pass from O'Reilly and lifted a header toward goal that forced Kaihori to jump
and tip the ball over the crossbar.
Japan made two changes in the 66th, bringing forwards Karina Maruyama and Yuki
Nagasato into the match in a switch for a midfielder and a forward. But it was
the U.S. that responded with the opening goal just minutes later.
Rapinoe's 50-yard pass down the middle of the field led Morgan into space, and
the 22-year-old striker got position on a Japanese defender and made two fast
touches before driving a left-footed shot inside the right post.
Morgan became just the second substitute to score in a World Cup final, but it
would not stand as Miyama answered in the 81st following a lucky bounce in the
Buehler tried to clear the ball out of the box, but sent the ball off teammate
Ali Krieger just a few yards away and the ball fell into space to Miyama. She
made no mistake from eight yards, leaving Solo no chance.
The final minutes of regulation ticked away without many chances and after two
minutes of stoppage time, the match went to extra time. Wambach sent a header
on goal and Morgan fired wide early, but the go-ahead goal followed.
One week after rescuing the U.S. with a 122-minute goal - the latest in World
Cup history - in the quarterfinals against Brazil, Wambach headed a pass from
Morgan into the net from six yards in the 104th.
Japan remained unnerved, and Miyama and Sawa combined on the tying goal in the
117th minute to level the match. Miyama played a corner kick in from the left,
and Sawa met the ball at the near post and flicked the ball past Solo.
Morgan created one last chance for the U.S., but she was chopped down just on
the edge of the area by Azusa Iwashimizu - who received a red card on the foul
- and the Americans wasted the free kick as the match went to penalties.
Boxx failed to hit the first chance well, and Kaihori made a foot save to deny
the U.S. an early lead in the shootout. Miyama buried Japan's first attempt in
the shootout, and Lloyd fired her shot over the bar on the second U.S. try.
Solo saved Yuki Nagasato's attempt in the second round, giving the U.S. a good
shot to get back in the shootout, but Kaihori saved Tobin Heath's attempt, and
Mizuho Sakaguchi sent a shot in off Solo's hand and, after Wambach converted a
kick for the U.S., Kumagai buried the winner.
Japan's unexpected run to a World Cup title comes months after the country was
devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at a power plant and
undoubtedly provided an uplifting moment for the country.
"Considering the current situation in Japan," said Japan manager Norio Sasaki,
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support."
07/17 19:13:03 ET