Defender Saki Kumagai had the honour of hitting home the decisive spot-kick as Japan triumphed 3-1 in the shootout. USA were twice pegged back but it took Homare Sawa to equalise three minutes from the end of extra time to force penalties.
USA created numerous goalscoring opportunities throughout the match but Aya Miyama’s goal nine minutes from the end of the 90 minutes forced extra time, after Alex Morgan had given the Stars and Stripes the lead on 69 minutes. Abby Wambach seemed set to have scored the winner on 104 minutes until Sawa’s late intervention.
The tone was set for a strong USA performance with the two-time world champions showing their intent from the opening whistle. Lauren Cheney forced a save from Ayumi Kaihori with a shot from a highly acute angle, after the forward had outmuscled Azusa Iwashimizu just 25 second into the contest.
On eight minutes, Megan Rapinoe found some space on the left and her excellent near post ball was turned just wide by Cheney. Barely a minute later, Wambach fired a shot over as USA maintained their bright start.
Carli Lloyd could then easily have opened the scoring when Japan were unable to deal with Wambach’s presence under a high early cross into the penalty area. The ball fell kindly for the midfielder but she blazed narrowly over the crossbar from 15 metres. Continue Reading.