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Sundhage stoic as Japan claim World Cup glory

AFP/The Local · 18 Jul 2011, 07:02

Published: 18 Jul 2011 07:02 GMT+02:00

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"We made just a couple of mistakes. We let them back in the game but I still think we did well," Pia Sundhage said.

Japan twice came from behind to win the women's World Cup for the first time on Sunday, beating the United States 3-1 on a penalty shoot-out after the final had finished 2-2 in extra-time.

"We had a lot of possession and played some good soccer. It's hard to lose on penalties, some go in and some go out," Sundhage said.

"It's a small difference between winning and losing. We just didn't take our chances," she said.

Japan captain Homare Sawa, who won the tournament's golden boot, kept her

side in the game with a header in the 117th minute after US striker Abby Wambach's had put her side ahead early in extra-time after the two sides were

locked at 1-1 over 90 minutes.

The Japanese had defender Azusa Iwashimizu sent off in the 121st minute for a foul on US striker Alex Morgan.

"Our team was very focused and very organised, but it was our first final, so we didn't really get into the game," admitted Japan coach Norio Sasaki.

"At the end of the day, all's well that ends well. We had lots of messages of support from our home country, thank you very much and thanks to the team."

In the dramatic shoot-out, Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori saved two penalties before defender Saki Kumagai hit the winning spot-kick.

"We have some very good players on the team and that is why we won the final. It is all down to the players in front of me, it was a team effort," said Kaihori.

"I got support during the shoot-outs because the Americans missed a couple. In a shoot-out, I just have to believe in myself and I was very self confident in that situation. I just wanted to save all those shots coming at me."

The US had taken the lead in the second-half of normal time thanks to striker Alex Morgan's sublime strike, but Japan's Aya Miyama poached the equaliser after a mix-up in the American defence in the 81st minute.

This was Japan's first win over the Americans at the 26th time of trying and was heartbreak for the Stars and Stripes as they missed out on a third World Cup title despite dominating Japan for large periods of the game.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel celebrated her 57th birthday by joining the 48,817 sell-out crowd in Frankfurt, while Dr Jill Biden, wife of US vice-president Joe Biden, and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of US Secretary of State Hillary, were also in the stands.

Japan made it to final after their shock 1-0 defeat of Germany in the quarter-finals before they dominated Sweden 3-1 in the last four.

The USA followed up a dramatic 5-3 win on penalties over Brazil in the last eight before they beat France 3-1 in the semi-finals.

The USA controlled the opening 20 minutes as left-wing Megan Rapinhoe and forward Lauren Cheney, who replaced striker Amy Rodriguez in the starting team, caused havoc, while Wambach hit the crossbar on 28 minutes.

Story continues below…

Japan's first real chance came with 30 minutes gone but midfielder Kozue Ando fired her shot straight at US goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The first-half finished goalless, but Cheney, with a heavily strapped ankle, was replaced at half-time by goal-scorer Morgan.

The USA kept up the pressure and Kaihori palmed Wambach's header over the bar on 64 minutes.

The Americans' pressure finally told when Rapinhoe's long-range pass - which was half the length of the pitch - found Morgan who blasted her shot across Kaihori on 69 minutes.

Japan were gifted the equaliser on 81 minutes when defenders Rachel Buehler and Krieger scrambled to clear the ball in their own goalmouth, but left-wing Miyama reacted fastest and stabbed the ball home.

In extra-time, Wambach headed the US back into the lead in the 104th minute.

But Sawa equalised from a corner in the 117th minute with her fifth goal of the tournament to take the game to penalties.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:09 July 18, 2011 by Gabin
Nihondjinn skidesse.
10:14 July 18, 2011 by byke
I honestly thought the picture above was a bloke.
11:14 July 18, 2011 by calebian22
She may be a bit butch, but she was a great player. She also has a great singing voice.
11:37 July 18, 2011 by johnny1939
Congratulations Japan!!!
13:35 July 18, 2011 by Beavis
Is this not a pink floyd story? Saw the photo of Roger Waters and thought it was
14:04 July 18, 2011 by Rishonim
@byke.. That's how many Swedish women look after 35 ;-)
14:46 July 18, 2011 by Jes
Calling football "soccer " is one other mistake this lady did .

And the photo ? I thought it was the bloke from A-Ha
14:46 July 18, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Sundhage stoic and arrogant. As far as I know, she never congratulated the Japanese squad for their well deserved victory. Pia Sundhage is just another example of how arrogant a Swede can be.

Writing about something else, The Local should revise the grammar used by its collaborators. In the lead, either AFP or The Local wrote "and underling that the margin between success and failure was slight."

Excuse me, but underling does not say anything. "Underlining" says what the lead was suppose to explain.

You are welcome, The Local.
15:01 July 18, 2011 by prince T
I dont understand what stioc and arrogsnt got to do with being Swedish. We cannot deny the fact that she is good. Is that part of beimg Swedish.
15:37 July 18, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
@prince t

You can be as good as you can be, but the greater you are, the humbler you must be, that means, marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.

Pia Sundhage is a good coach, but she is an arrogant Swedish coach. There is a say: "when you deal with Swedes, you must bear in mind that all of them are arrogant, until they prove the opposite", and Pia has never proved the opposite.

Japan ran and ran and ran and fought all the way until they won

the World Cup. I have not read any arrogant commentary from any of the players or from the captain. Have you?
19:14 July 18, 2011 by zooeden
Aint that roger waters????
00:55 July 19, 2011 by Alfred Nevada
In the first paragraph of this news article, I think the author should have used the word "underlining," instead of using the word "underling."
01:49 July 19, 2011 by GLO
Really!!! Who cares, just a girls and gay guy game. Thank God for the NFL...

Oh! The US team was is not that good even for girls.
13:17 July 19, 2011 by Jes
@GLO ,

what is NFL...? Is this about that game that you chaps call football even tthough it is 99% played by hands ?

Why the hell is it not callled lugby-handball -on -steroids ---LOST-----?
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