• Germany's news in English

Japan beat USA to win World Cup on penalties

The Local · 18 Jul 2011, 00:00

Published: 17 Jul 2011 23:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Jul 2011 00:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

"I cannot believe this," said 32-year-old Sawa, who was playing at her fifth World Cup.

"We never gave up and played until the last minute, I just kept running until the last moment. We have given all we had."

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

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.

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

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

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 of the final 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.

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 US 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.

Story continues below…

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.

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

After the devastating earthquake and tsunami which killed tens of thousands in northeast Japan on March 11, coach Norio Sasaki said messages of support from back home had played their part in victory.

"We had lots of support and messages from Japan and that was one of the keys for success," he said.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

00:10 July 18, 2011 by lunchbreak
It was the USA's match to lose and they succeeded to do just that even though they were clearly the better team IMO. Lots of talent on the US side and not enough discipline.
00:13 July 18, 2011 by Slimtots
Was an exciting match!!
00:21 July 18, 2011 by lunchbreak
Nonsense internationalwatch, those cards were totally deserved by Japanese. They were lucky indeed to win the match in overtime.
00:43 July 18, 2011 by ChrisRea
A truly inspiring game! The underdog Japan overcame the mental blockage of playing a team they never have beaten before and kept fighting until the end. USA was Goliath, the team that already won the World Cup twice, the number one in the rankings, the one who had an almost perfect track against Japan, the last of the initial big favourites that was still in the competition. Japan was David, the team that came from a country shaken by a natural disaster, the one that was given no chance, the one with the shortest players (even the goalkeeper is no taller than 170 cm). Maybe because of the history of the previous encounters, Japan played with fear until the first goal of the USA. With nothing to lose, they unleashed their play and caused panic in the US defense. Even when they were led for the second time, they kept their nerves just like USA in the game against Brazil and showed that determination and collective play can compensate experience and physical qualities. They clearly showed what a champion is made of.

The fantastic saves of Ayumi Kaihori in the penalty shootout reminded me of the great Romanian goalkeeper Duckadam, the one who saved four consecutive penalty shots in the shootout to help Steaua Bucharest defeat FC Barcelona in the European Cup final of 1986.

The referees have done a good job as well, even if they signaled an imaginary offside in the 64th minute and so denied the Japanese forward a big chance to score.

The organizing committee did also a great job with the spectacular closing ceremony.

Even if they lost this game, US deserves congratulations for their high quality play during the whole tournament, including the final.
04:31 July 18, 2011 by DOZ
Great! Great!
05:29 July 18, 2011 by c12dat
Great game. Congratulations to the Japanese team.
05:51 July 18, 2011 by belladons
Great game, and congrats to the Japanese ladies. My hat is off to you for being crowned world cup champions. You played a great game. Now that it's all over, Germany hosted a great cup. All the teams are outstanding as you could see the passion the ladies have for football. Do not hang your head in shame. Everyone of you are warriors, great citizens of your nation, and of the world. Great game last night, and great World Cup.
07:24 July 18, 2011 by harcourt
internationalwatch #2

You're right , in fact one could say that Japan beat Germany twice. Well done Japan for proving that big is not always the best!!!
08:32 July 18, 2011 by alexingohr
internationalwatch was right, biased refereeing (again) the ref should be neutral and not laughing and smiling with eitherr team, I guess he could speak English but not Japanese.

The team with spirit won deservedly
08:53 July 18, 2011 by marimay
The ref didn't make any biased calls, I am sorry. If you hadn't noticed, the coach for the german team, the german teams players, and german politicians were all rooting for Japan.
09:26 July 18, 2011 by tueken
The ref did make biased calls, its so obvious.
09:41 July 18, 2011 by Jimberlin
I thought that ref made obvious mistakes against Japan..But what amazed me was Japanese sense of respect. They didnt complain or scream even once against the stupid ref.

They won and won it with dignity. True winners :))
11:11 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
Congratulations to Japan from Germany! Great spirit and a great team - now there are four World Champions which makes the next World Cup 2015 in Canada even more exciting to see. I also hope that this win may bring a little bit of peace to the Japanese soul, though I know that becoming World Champion won't bring back your beloved ones.

@ marimay, lunchbreak, ChrisRea: I'm with you in this particular case. =)

But I wouldn't continue discussing, because there are OBVIOUSLY some commentators in here (especially INTERNATIONALWATCH) who were just waiting to bash the German referee(or the several German referess) who in my opinion did a very good job, except of the situation where they claimed it to be offside. But this happened in other games of this World Cup, too. Referees are just human-beings - they will never be omniscient.
13:20 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
The only one who is BIASED and a RACIST is YOU! Unfortunately there are racism songs all over the world in different countries, not only in Germany.

Moreover please stop writing such nonsense. I grew up in Germany, went to kindergarten and went to school for thirteen years, but we have never sung any racism songs.

My girlfriend recently did a work-experience in a kindergarten and so neither did they.

But yes, you are right - all Germans are racists - this is why best friend comes from Iran and my uncle married a woman from Poland...
13:30 July 18, 2011 by marimay
I've never sang a racist song in my life living in the US, nor have I ever heard one :/

Normally I would probably agree with most of what International watch said, but regarding the ref, I do not agree and as I said in a previous post, the Germans wanted Japan to win, not the US.
13:44 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ marimay: Never heard of racist country music in the US, especially in the southern parts of the United States?

Well, as you can take from my comments, I wouldn't agree with the things internationalwatch said.

But it's his personly opinion and his is free to express his opinion, though it's completely undifferentiated.
14:25 July 18, 2011 by marimay
I am not from the south, luckily.
14:27 July 18, 2011 by Ami-In-DE
The referreeing was NOT biased--they made bad calls on both sides and really not too many. Case in point: On the very first PK with Japan defending goal, the goalie clearly moved forward and off of her line prior to Boxx's kick...but no call. That first block of the US kick set the pace and tone of the rest of the PKs.

I thought overall the game was well-called by the refs. Japan deserves to be champion for their perseverence and resilience. The US also deserves to walk away proud, they just didn't convert on the many chances they had in that game.

The entire WM was totally exciting and impressive. I am now a new fan of women's soccer.
15:16 July 18, 2011 by MaKo
The game was really good, a real cliffhanger. Too bad it was decided in penalty kicks, but to my mind, that is evidence of two well-matched teams. I thought the referreeing was very fair. The refs weren't biased...

but Claudia Roth and Sylvia Neid sure were! I'm not even sure Neid jumped out of her seat when her own team scored goals. While it's not exactly a mystery, I do thank you for reminding us (beloved Americans) where we stand, ladies.
15:55 July 18, 2011 by lwexcel
It was a great game, I was naturally rooting for the states, but it was a well deserved win for Japan.

@ Mako,

You are right on it was really disappointing to see the German team choosing sides, although one definitely gets satisfaction in watching them cheer on the game from the sidelines, instead of making it to the finals that were held in their own country ;-).
16:38 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ MaKo and lwexcel

Personally don't know what's wrong with choosing sides - in my opinon it's just natural. Don't know whether the U.S. Americans were cheering for Sweden in the final of the World Cup 1999 after Germany had ousted them at home in the semi-finals, but if they did so, I would not have minded.

But I have to admit that I was cheering for Japan even more after I had heard that one of the American players had already searched for a location to "celebrate" - sounded to me as if they thought they would have already won this game.

Now with the deserved defeat by the Japanese team, the German team will attempt on fixing the problems and maybe they will make other host teams cheering from the sidelines in the next European Championships and World Championships, while they are heading to the finals... ;-)
17:01 July 18, 2011 by MaKo
@IYWMTS: I have no problem with people choosing sides; I was rooting for the States, of course, but I know the win meant a lot to Japan. As such, I'm halfheartedly happy for them :)

I think that as a representative of the host nation - the members and coach of the German team and especially the leader of the Green party - one should at least make an effort to demonstrate neutrality and goodwill toward both teams in equal measure.

@ lwexcel: well, a little bit, yes ;)
17:11 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ internationalwatch:

Although the term "Negerkuss" is still used by some of the Germans, most of them prefer to say "Schokoküsse" oder "Dickmans" to the candy (not a song) you are refering to. But even though some are still using this term, few of them have racist intents.

"Zillertaler Türkenjäger" was not a song, but a "music project" by some right wing idiots. And if you would have done your homework, you would have known that this CD was confiscated, because of §130 of the German criminal code. So it is ridiculous to say that this was or is taught in Germany to German children or anyone else.
17:25 July 18, 2011 by Englishted

It was a classic game a fitting end to a great world cup .

Congratulations are due to both the U.S.A. and naturally to Japan .

Most people are not as sore as you ,so what is your problem ?.

I live in German with a German wife who's Grandfather was killed by the English or Americans in WW2 ,but I have never found any problems.

I have travel all over the country and it is cool to be English.

Bitter and twisted slagging of the Ref. is uncalled for.

You comments about racist song is simply untrue,don't forget most national anthems have a little racism in them as well.
17:43 July 18, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ Englishted: Thank you! =)

@ MaKo: Concerning political representatives - who are in charge (what is important to me to emphasize) - you are perfectly right - for instance the German Bundespräsident Christian Wulff. But with respect to politicians who are part of the present opposition like Claudia Roth I disagree - to me they are more like the "usual" audience. =)

As far as it comes to the German coach Silvia Neid or German players I will also stay with my opinion, because to me personally it shows character to be albe to cheer for the team which has ousted you of the World Cup - this shows that they are capable of coping with their deserved defeat and can still be pleased with the ones who defeated them. To me this is much better and - what ist more impotant - much more honest than being "forced" to stay neutral, although you may wish one side to win or to lose.

But yes, you can have different perspectives on this topic. =)
18:10 July 18, 2011 by Beachrider
Wow, someone wants to turn a sporting result into a validation of their own racial proclivities. Have fun with that!

It was good to see a major women's sporting event get global attention. I congratulate the Japanese women for bringing joy to their relatives and supporters.
16:17 July 19, 2011 by Patrick4141
The US had the hottest looking team overall.
Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd