Despite Nike's "Pressure Makes Us" ad campaign for the United States Women's World Cup run, the team missed their first three penalty kicks in the final's deciding shootout after Japan came back twice from being a goal down late in the match. Japan beat the U.S. for the first time ever (26 matches) and earned their first ever WWC title, showing just as much determination, fight and toughness as the U.S. was lauded for throughout the tournament.
By beating No. 2-ranked Germany, No.5-ranked Sweden and the No. 1-ranked U.S. in that order during the knockout rounds, Japan proved that if pressure made anyone, it was them. The first equalizer in the 80th minute was a gift from the American defenders, but after Abby Wambach put the U.S. ahead 2-1 in extra time with yet another crucial header, the tournament's leading scorer, Homare Sawa, scored a wonderful goal off a corner in the 116th minute to push the game to penalties.
Though it seemed the U.S might have a chance to recreate the iconic scenes of their successful shootout in 1999, the team's first three shots just were not good enough. Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori came up with a kick save on Shannon Boxx's opening shot, then Carli Lloyd blasted her shot over the crossbar and Kaihori again saved Tobin Heath's attempt after that, putting the U.S. in a hole they would not escape. Japan won the shootout 3-1, bringing much needed smiles to the faces of their countrymen back home.
Here's video of the shootout...
U.S. star goalkeeper Hope Solo went over to her family in tears after letting in 20-year-old defender Saki Kumagai's winning shot.
And after an absolutely incredible match, it was Japan lifting the trophy.
Photos: Getty Images, Reuters
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