Monday, 6 July 2015

Women’s World Cup: United States Wins

Fallen champions Japan were left stunned and humiliated after being stripped of their World Cup crown by the United States in a tearful 5-2 defeat in Vancouver.
The ‘Nadeshiko’ – a pink flower symbolising grace and beauty – were trailing four goals down after just 16 minutes at BC Place Stadium on front of a passionate 53,341 crowd of largely US supporters.
Chants of ‘USA, USA, USA’ resounding around the stadium were so loud that coach Norio Sasaki could not be heard as he desperately shouted to warn his team of the danger posed by Carli Lloyd.
Lloyd, 32, started up front and her 13-minute first-half hattrick proved devastating for the Japanese.
The Asian champions had come into the final, which was a rematch of the 2011 championship match in which they beat the United States on penalties, with high hopes.
They were the only team to have won all their games in Canada – although four were against newcomers in Cameroon, Ecuador, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
But the cracks were beginning to show as they advanced past England 2-1 in the semi-final
thanks to an own-goal by defender Laura Bassett.
The United States had advanced out of a tough Group D – dubbed the ‘group of death’ – which included Australia, Sweden and Nigeria.
And the Americans had analysed their rival’s game.
“We knew that if we took it to Japan they would get nervous on the pitch,” said Lloyd.
The Americans had worked on their set pieces and the methodical and technical Japanese had no answer.
“This is not the end of soccer in Japan,” vowed coach Norio Sasaki.
“I love these girls and I really want to continue working with them.
“We lost because the United States played those set pieces successfully, we really need to look back and analyse after losing by that many goals.”
“We came here and we really had pride to play here.
“We could have lost by many more goals but the positive point is that we did not give up.”
Sasaki ’embarrassed’ –
Sasaki blamed himself for his players’ inability to react to the threat.
“Japan were a little slow responding. Instead of me coaching the players they need to react without my prompting. It’s my fault, we need to work on this.”
Sasaki admitted they were outplayed by the Americans and particularly Lloyd, who also scored both goals in a 2-1 win which gave the US the Olympic gold at the expense of Japan.
Lloyd, 32, scored her first after just three minutes with the second coming two minutes later, and her third on 16 minutes.
It was the first ever hattrick in the final of the women’s tournament, and her six goals saw her take the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s top player.
Teammates Lauren Holiday (14) and Tobin Heath (54) also found the net.
Yuki Ogimi got one back on 27 minutes for Japan with their second coming thanks to a 52nd-minute own-goal by US defender Julie Johnson.
“We’re really embarrassed,” Sasaki said.
Midfielder Homare Sawa, the heroine of Japan’s 2011 campaign, came on after 33 minutes in place of tearful defender Azusa Iwashimizu — who had a desperate game — but failed to ignite the Japanese.
“I’d decided this would be my last World Cup and I’ve got no regrets,” said the 36-year-old Sawa, who was critical of their campaign.
“We’re very disappointed. We gave away those goals early on which obviously hurt. You can’t afford to do that against a team like America.
“But the result gives a fair reflection of where the team is now.”
Japan captain Aya Miyama won the Bronze Ball for the tournament’s third best player.
“This time we didn’t win, but I think we did our best,” said the 30-year-old.
“Coming first and coming second are very different, so I am very sorry,” she said, as tears streamed down her face.
“It was a tough game, but everyone did her best for the team.”
For Mana Iwabuchi, at 22 the youngest member of the team, the defeat was inexplicable.
“This is our last game together as a team, and I thought we were a great team. We did our best and we finished in second place.”
Ogimi added: “We need to look now towards the next game. Both as individuals and as a team, we weren’t good enough.”

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