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Japan upsets defending champion Germany, 1-0, in Women's World Cup

Forward Karina Maruyama scores in extra time, and Japan ends Germany's 15-game unbeaten streak in World Cup play and knocks the host nation out of the tournament. France defeats England, 4-3, on penalty kicks.

July 10, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones
  • Japan's Karina Maruyama watches her shot beat Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer (1) and defender Saskia Bartusiak on Saturday.
Japan's Karina Maruyama watches her shot beat Germany goalkeeper… (Peter Steffen / EPA )

Staggered, up against the ropes and reeling, Germany was hanging on its world championship by a thread. The fans in Wolfsburg had bitten their nails to the quick and time was running out in the Women's World Cup quarterfinal.

That's when Karina Maruyama struck.

The Japanese forward found the back of the German net in the 108th minute and the Nadeshiko, as the team is known, held on to score a stunning upset, knocking the host nation and two-time defending champion Germans out of their own tournament, 1-0, in extra time.

As if that were not enough, earlier on a dramatic Saturday night France scored the tying goal against England with barely two minutes left in regulation, kept the 1-1 score intact through 30 minutes of energy-sapping extra time, and then went on to win the quarterfinal in Leverkusen, 4-3 on penalty kicks.

So the French and Japanese advanced to Wednesday's semifinals of the 16-nation tournament, both teams reaching that advanced stage for the first time.

France will play the winner of Sunday's U.S.-Brazil quarterfinal while Japan will play the winner of Sunday's Sweden-Australia quarterfinal.

"I've got no preference about whether we play Brazil or the U.S.," French playmaker Camille Abily said. "The most important thing for us is that we won't be watching their game tomorrow from back home in France."

It was a case of the better team beating the braver one, as the Leverkusen crowd of 26,395 would readily agree. France, technically more skilled and tactically more astute, took 33 shots and put 11 of them on target. For England, the same figures were seven and three.

Even so, it still came down to the final kick of the game.

The English women were within a few minutes of reaching the semifinals for the first time. They led, 1-0, in the 88th minute on a 59th-minute goal by Jill Scott, but the French tied it when Elise Bussaglia found the back of the net to salvage French hopes with two minutes remaining.

England's players were exhausted, with some, notably Kelly Smith, reduced to a limp. But they battled to keep the French at bay in extra time. When it went to penalty kicks, it seemed England still had a chance.

That was especially true after former Cal State Fullerton goalkeeper Karen Bardsley saved the first France penalty, by Abily, but after that Bussaglia, Gaetane Thiney, Sonia Bompastor and Eugenie Le Sommer all scored.

Meanwhile, England got consecutive goals by Smith, Karen Carney and Casey Stoney, before Claire Rafferty skewed her effort wide right and, with the final kick, team captain Faye White hit the crossbar with her shot.

"I think I aged 10 years when they scored against us, and 10 more when one of our penalties was saved," France Coach Bruno Bini said. "But thankfully winning the match took 22 years off me.

"I know that our joy is matched by their pain. We've been staying in the same hotel as the English, and I'll make sure that our players bear their disappointment in mind."

For the Germans, the pain was even greater. They were the tournament favorites and the loss ended their 15-game unbeaten streak in World Cup play. They were seeking to become the first team in history, men's or women's, to win three World Cups in a row.

"We could have played for another few hours without winning," Germany Coach Silvia Neid said. "I am sad we are out of the tournament as I don't think we were the inferior team. However, we didn't score and if you don't score, and you don't pay attention throughout, then you lose the match."

Veteran Japanese playmaker Homare Sawa was in tears at the end of the game, played in front of a sellout crowd of 26,067.

"We have never won against Germany," she said, "and to do that at the World Cup makes me so happy. I cried because of all the emotions at the final whistle."

Jones reported from Ross-on-Wye, England

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