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Japan sweep past Sweden
 Women's Football News 14 Jul 2011
 
Japan 3 (Kawasumi 18,63, Sawa 58) Sweden 1 (Oqvist 9)
att: 45,434; at Frankfurt

Japan are through to their first ever World Cup Final after coming from behind to beat previously unbeaten Sweden under the roof at Frankfurt. 
 
The win was no more than they deserved after a stunning display of passing football which did justice to their reputation as the "Barcelona of women's football".
 
There was little sign of what was to come in the opening few minutes and it was Sweden who took advantage of a bad mistake to take the lead. Homare Sawa played a loose ball across the face of her defence and Josefine Oqvist stole in to intercept and take the ball past Azusa Iwahimuzu before burying her shot into the corner of the net.
 
Despite the early setback, Japan got into their stride and were soon back on level terms. Shinobu Ohno made a strong run before spreading the ball out wide to Aya Miyama, whose cross was bundled in at the far post by Nahomi Kawasumi for the equaliser.
 
Japan continued to play the ball around and Ohno was having a fine game on the right, the winger creating their next opportunity following a good move when she cut the ball back for Kawasumi whose shot flew straight at Hedvig Lindahl.
 
Miyama's free kicks have been a key feature of Japan's World Cup run so far and she almost delivered again when, after Kawasumi had been fouled on the edge of the area, her shot was turned round the post by Lindahl.
 
Japan were inches away from going in front in the opening minute of the second half as Ohno unleashed a 25-yard strike which dipped over Lindahl but struck the bar.
 
With Sawa and Miyama orchestrating in the centre and overlapping full back Aya Sameshima a constant threat down the left, Japan continued to look dangerous going forward and the Swedish defence was constantly being stretched. Sweden however were struggling to gain any kind of possession and striker Lotta Schelin was often left isolated up front.
 
Japan's football finally brought reward just before the hour mark. Following a period of pressure, the ball was worked out to left where Sameshima played a cross into the area. Lindahl came out but failed to claim and the ball fell for Sawa to nod home and send her side in front for the first time.
 
Before Sweden could recover, they found themselves 3-1 down. Miyama clipped a ball over the defence for Kozue Ando to chase, Lindahl came out of her area to clear but only as far as Kawasumi, who took one touch before executing a brilliant 35-yard lob back into the back of the net for arguably the goal of the tournament.
 
The game was over as a contest and a series of substitutions could not get Sweden going. Japan continued to dominate possession and kept the Swedes well at bay and a loose pass almost let in Yuki Nagasato for a fourth but her shot was deflected wide.
 
Lisa Dahlkvist tried to reply at the other end with a shot from 25 yards which went wide but, despite their efforts, they could not make any impression on the Japanese defence which stood firm and averted any danger.
 
Japanese celebrations began in earnest at the final whistle with the stunned and bemused Swedish players looking on. Japan have knocked out two major powers in the women's game in succession and now have their sights on a third, again in Frankfurt on Sunday. 
 
Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Yukari Kinga, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Azusa Iwashimuzu, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Kozue Ando, Aya Miyama (sub Megumi Kamionobe 87mins), Nahomi Kawasumi (sub Yuki Nagasato 73mins), Homare Sawa, Shinobu Ohno (sub Megumi Takase 85mins).

Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl, Charlotte Rohlin, Linda Forsberg (sub Sofia Jakobsson 64mins), Annica Svensson, Marie Hammarstrom (sub Jessica Landstrom 69mins), Sara Thunebro, Sara Larsson, Lotta Schelin, Lisa Dahlkvist, Josefine Oqvist (sub Antonia Goransson 74mins), Therese Sjogran.


 
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