FIFA Women's World Cup 2011
JAPAN 3:1 SWEDEN Frankfurt 45,434
USA 3:1 FRANCE Moenchengladbach, 25,676
Japanese football continues its rise as its women's team reached their first ever World Cup Final today.
Having dispatched the hosts Germany in the quarter-final, the Nadeshiko swept Sweden aside with aplomb, coming from behind to win by three goals to one. Nahomi Kawasumi's clincher was an exquisite lob from over 30 yards to seal a memorable victory. Sweden's opener on ten minutes was a victory for power and pace but the Japanese passing game triumphed in the end with 14 shots to four and 60% of possession.
Waiting to spoil the Japanese party in the final however are the traditional giant of the USA, who beat France by the same score today in their semi-final.
In an exciting tussle in Moenchengladbach, the French outshot the Americans 25 to 11 but failed to convert their possession play into goals and succumbed to two strikes in four minutes late in the game. Once again Abby Wambach's aerial prowess proved key, heading the crucial second in the 79th minute to leave France desperately chasing the game.
Sunday's final should prove a fascinating clash of styles with the American power game facing the close-passing orientals. A Japanese victory would prove truly historic, and probably be cheered by the purists. But the experienced Americans must start as favourites and will be keen to add the World Cup to their Beijing Olympic crown.
- Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile
FINAL: USA v Japan Sunday 1945h GMT Frankfurt
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