TOKYO (majirox news) — Japan won the Women’s World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 18 Japan time, defeating the United States 3-1 on penalties following a 2-2 deadlock after extra time.
Nadeshiko Japan became the first senior Asian soccer team to win a World Cup when it came from behind to defeat the heavily favored Americans, who had never previously lost to Japan.
Japan twice came back from the brink. It conceded the game’s first goal when substitute Alex Morgan slotted in for the Americans in the 69th minute, but Aya Miyama equalized 12 minutes later. With scores level after 90 minutes of regulation play, the final went into extra time.
In the 104th minute, the world’s top-ranked Americans once again went in front as Amy Wambach used her height advantage over Japanese defenders to head the ball into the net. With just three minutes of extra time remaining, Homare Sawa flicked a corner kick into the goal, drawing Japan back into the match and also making the 32-year-old captain the tournament’s leading scorer.
Level after extra time, the final moved on to penalties, but the United States missed its first three shots. Saki Kumagai shot into the net past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and Japan won its first World Cup.
The victory of the team — nicknamed Nadeshiko after the Japanese word used to describe traditional feminine beauty and grace – was the first World Cup title for any Asian team. Japan entered the tournament ranked fourth in the world and defeated hosts Germany in a quarter final and Sweden in a semifinal. Before Sunday, Japan had never defeated the United States in women’s soccer, claiming just three draws and 21 losses.