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Japan wins World Cup title in dramatic fashion


Japan wins World Cup title in dramatic fashion

Derrick Johnson July 18, 2011

Twice it seemed that the United States had the World Cup title in its grasp, and twice Japan took it away, eventually outdueling the Americans in penalty kicks to win the country's first World Cup title.

The victory was certainly an emotional one for Japan, as the nation is still recovering from a devastating earthquake and the tsunami that ravaged the country earlier this year. The win was especially shocking given that this was Japan's first time participating in the tournament, and first win in 26 tries against the United States.

Although the Americans had their chances in the first half, the two teams were tied 0-0 headed into halftime. The Americans finally broke through when Alex Morgan scored in the 69th minute to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. However, Japan evened up the score just 11 minutes later when Aya Miyama knocked it past U.S. keeper Hope Solo to force extra time.

The extra periods appeared to be dominated by the U.S. as well, and Abby Wambach headed in a goal in the 104th minute. With time running out, Japan tied the score at 2, and then dominated the penalty kicks, winning 3-1 to come home with the trophy.

Many players on the U.S. felt like they were destined to bring home the World Cup for the first time since 1999, especially after they made it through a dramatic qualifying process and early-round matches.

"If any other country was to win this, then I'm really happy and proud for Japan," midfielder Carli Lloyd told ESPN. "Deep down inside I really thought it was our destiny to win it. But maybe it was Japan's."