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US falls to Japan in Women’s World Cup penalty shootout

Michael Probst | AP
Michael Probst | AP
Japan's Homare Sawa (from left), Aya Sameshima, Mana Iwabuchi, Yukari Kinga, Nahomi Kawasumi celebrate winning the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011.
By Nancy Armour, The Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany — Japan has won the Women’s World Cup, stunning the U.S. 3-1 in a penalty shootout Sunday night after coming from behind twice in a 2-2 tie.

Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all missed penalties for the Americans, who squandered dozens of chances throughout the game and blew a lead just six minutes from winning their third World Cup title.

The Americans had taken the lead in the 104th minute off a header by Abby Wambach. Alex Morgan, who scored the first American goal, came up with a blocked cross and sent it to Wambach, who was camped in front of the goal on the 6-yard line. Standing a head taller — and then some — from defenders on either side of her, she needed only to nod the ball into the net.

But Sawa flicked in corner kick — earned after 36-year-old captain Christie Rampone raced to clear Yukari Kinga’s chip over Hope Solo off the line.

Japan is the first Asian nation to win the World Cup.


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