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Japan are through to the Final of the Olympic Games tournament after beating France 2-1, but only after having to withstand a late French onslaught.
The opening stages were very tense at Wembley Stadium with both teams trying to settle down. Japan are seeking to add Olympic gold to winning the World Cup last year and it is they who went ahead on 32 minutes.
However the goal came via a mistake from France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who fumbled a free kick from Aya Miyama and Yuki Ogimi followed up to bundle the loose ball home.
Japan safely negotiated the remainder of the first half and took a firm grip on the game as another set pieced led to them doubling their advantage, four minutes after the restart.
This time Miyama floated a free kick into the area where an unmarked Mizuho Sakaguchi was on hand to glance a header past Bouhaddi and into the far corner of the net.
France made changes to try and boost their attack and after Louisa Necib was foiled by a good save from Miho Fukumoto, Bruno Biri's side did reduce the arrears as Elodie Thomis got to the goal line and cut the ball back for Eugenie Le Sommer to drill home.
Just two minutes later and France had a glorious opportunity to level the scores when Sakaguchi tripped Le Sommer in the area and a penalty was awarded. Elise Bussaglia stepped up to take her kick but dragged her shot wide.
France piled on the pressure late on, although the result could have been put beyond doubt when Ogimi hit the post on the break. Fukumoto made a great point blank save from Wendie Renard during injury time but Japan held out to reach the Final and guarantee themselves a medal following their fourth place finish in Beijing four years ago.
Japan: Miho Fukumoto, Yukari Kinga, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Mizuho Sakaguchi (sub Asuna Tanaka 84mins), Yuki Ogimi, Aya Miyama, Nahomi Kawasumi, Homare Sawa, Shinobu Ohno (sub Kozue Ando 74mins). Subs not used: Kyoko Yano, Karina Maruyama, Megumi Takase, Mana Iwabuchi, Ayumi Kaihori.
France: Sarah Bouhaddi, Corine Franco, Sonia Bompastor, Laura Georges, Wendie Renard, Sandrine Soubeyrand (sub Camille Abily 56mins), Elodie Thomis, Louisa Necib, Marie-Laure Delie, Elise Bussaglia, Gaetene Thiney (sub Eugenie Le Sommer 58mins). Subs not used: Celine Deville, Laure Boulleau, Ophelie Meilleroux, Camille Catala, Sabrina Viguier.
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