18 Jul 2011

Japan win World Cup for first time

11:07 am on 18 July 2011

Japan won the women's football World Cup for the first time when they upset the United States 3-1 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time.

Japan was in need of a good news story after the tsunami disaster which rocked the country in March and their female footballers supplied it despite being dominated for long spells in the final.

They slipped behind once in normal time and then again in extra time but hit back out of the blue on both occasions before prevailing in the shootout as the U.S. top-ranked team lost all their confidence, sending a series of poor efforts at goal.

Japan's winning spotkick sparked wild celebrations in front of the sell-out crowd of 48,837 in Frankfurt.

It was the first time in 26 matches that Japan had beaten favourites the U.S., who had won the World Cup title in 1991 and 1999.