USA seals a berth in the women’s FIFA World Cup final with an inspired 3-1 victory over France in the semi-finals. USA is set to meet Japan in its first final since winning the title on home soil in 1999.
In a back-and-forth, dramatic and high-tempo semi-final USA saw off France with two late goals that finally subdued a heroic France on Wednesday night in Monchengladbach. The Americans took a quick lead in the first half, barely ten minutes into the match, when Laura Cheney deftly tucked the ball home at the near posts following a determined cross from Heather O’Reilley who outpaced Laura Georges on the left flank to find space.
France however rallied on, peppering the American net. They crafted plenty opportunities in front of Hope Solo, forcing the American keeper to come up with some memorable saves. The best of which came near the half hour mark when Louisa Necib fired on target from the edge of the penalty area for what looked an almost certain goal but for an alert Solo tipping the ball over the crossbar.
The game’s incredible pace continued in the second half, although France came out of the blocks stronger as they very nearly levelled the score inside the first minute but for a nervy effort by Thiney. Their efforts were rewarded soon afterwards though as Bompastor’s cross beat Solo soundly to fly into the goal.
Parity so restored the tempo increased, frantic end-to-end action with both sides having opportunities to go ahead in the game, underscored by the central battle between French keeper Berangere Sapowicz and her opposite Hope Solo as both tried to outshine the other while keeping her side in the game.
USA finally cracked Sapowicz with 11 minutes remaining on a powerful header by Wambach following a well-hit Cheney corner. And three minutes later, Morgan finished France off on the counter-attack with a cool strike beating an exposed Sapowicz.
Japan is through to their first-ever World Cup final following a comeback from behind victory over Sweden.
Sweden took the early lead when Josefine Oqvist took advantage of some careless passing by Japan in the box to strike a fine shot past goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori. Japan however responded quickly; the lead barely ten minutes old, Japan created some inspired havoc in front of Sweden’s goal and Aya Miyami crossed into the box for Kawasumi to touch the ball past Hedvig Lindhal.
A frenzy of action unfolded in the second half, although Sweden never did quite look as imposing as they did against the Americans in the final group game, failing to create any viable opportunities and struggling to breakthrough Japan’s backline.
The deadlock was finally broken on the hour mark, somewhat fortuitously for the Asians, when Homare Sawa pounced on a botched save attempt by Lindahl. It proved to be Lindahl’s undoing and thus, Sweden’s campaign.
Four minutes later Japan was up by two goals. Once again, a botched effort by Lindahl – coming out to stop a long ball but for the clearance handily falling to Kawasumi’s feet, which she touched once before taking an ambitious long-range strike that looped into the net as much to her surprise as to Japan’s delight – sent Japan well and truly into the final.
Winning Pick: The American Team has the momentum, confidence and swagger. Japan won't be able to over come those odds.