Japan have lifted the FIFA Women’s World Cup after a penalty shoot-out win against USA in the final in Frankfurt.
The Japanese girls hadn’t beaten their rivals in their previous 27 meetings but they found the perfect moment to break that sad tradition.
The Americans, who entered the game as favorites, showed their class throughout most of the game. Pia Sundhage’s charges created chances and went in front twice, but started playing far too nervously after grabbing the advantage.
This happened first in regular time when Alex Morgan made it 1-0 for the US on 69th minutes, striking a splendid shot after a great long ball from Megan Rapinoe. But panic in the Stars and Stripe’s defense 12 minutes later allowed Aya Miyama to force extra time when she made it 1-1.
And the situation repeated itself in the additional 30 minutes. The Americans were 16 minutes away from their third World Cup triumph after a header from Abby Wambach put them ahead, but once again The Americans allowed Norio Sasaki’s side to equalize.
Homare Sawa became the tournament’s top scorer after netting her fifth goal in Germany, following a 117th minute corner.
The US squad just didn’t have the morale or strength necessary for the penalty shoot-out as they missed three of their shots, thanks to a superb display from Japanese keeper Ayumi Kaihori.
And it was Saki Kumagai who converted the shot that made Japan Women’s World champions for the first time in their history.
The clash in Frankfurt surpassed the European attendance record for female football as nearly 49,000 witnessed the final at the sold-out arena.