World Cup: Despite Tournament of Tremendous Goals, USA Fail in Penalty Shootout

Marc RosebladeContributor IIIJuly 18, 2011

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 17:  Yuki Nagasato of Japan celebrates with Kozue Ando after winning the FIFA Women's World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Japan came from behind twice in the 120 minutes of match play before eventually out-shooting the favoured USA side in penalties to secure victory in the final of the Women's World Cup on Sunday.

Twice during the match the USA women took the lead only for the Japanese team to equalise on both occasions to take the final to a dramatic end with a penalty shoot out.

After a tremendous tournament that has seen some spectacular goals, it was ironic that the Americans then missed their first three spot-kicks, almost handing the trophy to the Japanese side despite Hope Solo's efforts during the shoot out. But even she couldn't stop her counterparts from securing their first major women's football title.

After having three superb chances in the first half and a shot cleared from the line early in the second, it was not until the 69th minute that the USA had something to show for their dominance.

A Megan Rapinoe route one ball down the middle of the pitch found striker Alex Morgan out-sprinting the Japanese defence to fire home a left-footed shot from the edge of the area to put the USA team ahead.

With 10 minutes remaining though, the Japanese women broke the American's hearts by scoring an equalizing goal when Aya Miyama capitalised on a blunder in the US defence, poking home the loose ball and with this goal, the normal 90 minutes of play ended without further match changing incidents.

U.S Goalscorer Morgan turned provider in the first 15 minutes of added time with her cross from the left-hand touchline, finding the head of striker Abby Wambach, who made no mistake from close range just as this first period of extra time was coming to an end.

But with moments remaining and reminiscent of the USA's earlier tournament last gasp goal, the Japanese leading scorer Homare Sawa netted her fifth goal of the campaign to again draw Japan level after meeting an in-swinging corner at the near post, neatly flicking the ball into the net through a swarm of players.
As if the end wasn't dramatic enough, Japan's Azusa Iwashimizu was sent off in the final minute of extra time, but from the resultant free kick the USA failed to score and sent the match into penalties.

USA's Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd surprisingly all missed their spot kicks to give Japan the early shootout advantage, and despite American goalkeeper Hope Solo's save against Yuki Nagasato, Saki Kumagai stepped up to deliver the killer blow and give Japan a historic victory and in a year that their country has suffered massive devastation, this will give the Japanese public something to at last celebrate in 2011.

Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for Bleacher Report as well as Not Just Scottish Football and youth development reporter for Ayr United Football Academy. All quotes are obtained first-hand unless otherwise stated.

A Look Back At Japan's Dramatic World Cup Victory Over USA (highlights)