Japan’s ‘Nadeshiko’ women’s football team moved within one win of a rare World Cup and Olympic double Monday when they set up a final with fierce rivals the United States.
Japan beat France 2-1 to advance to their second major final in as many years. The Americans, their opponents in last year’s World Cup decider, dramatically edged Canada 4-3 in the last minute of extra time.
“We were always confident we would not lose,” said Japanese striker Megumi Takase, adding there were jitters when France’s Elise Bussaglia stepped up to take a late penalty.
“We were all praying on the bench that she would miss, and she did.”
Victory on Thursday at Wembley Stadium would make Japan only the second team to hold both the world and Olympic titles, after the United States when they won the 1999 World Cup. They relinquished their Olympic crown the following year.
Goals in each half from Yuki Ogimi and Mizuho Sakaguchi appeared to have left the Japanese cruising into Thursday’s final.
However France staged a desperate late fightback to run the Japanese close, with Eugenie le Sommer pulling a goal back to make it 2-1 on 76 minutes.
France then appeared poised to equalise after le Sommer was bundled over in the penalty area by Sakaguchi to earn a penalty.
But the pressure was too much for France’s Elise Bussaglia, who blasted her spot-kick well wide as a golden chance to level went begging.
The United States advanced to the final after an Alex Morgan goal in the last minute of extra-time snatched a gripping win over Canada.
In one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of the tournament, the American women came from behind three times to level at 3-3 in 90 minutes before Morgan’s 120th-minute clincher at Old Trafford.
After another 18 medals were settled on day 10, China remained two clear of the United States at the top of the medals table with 31 golds. Xu Lijia’s women’s Laser sailing victory was their only win of the day.
China’s men’s basketball team was shocked 90-58 by Britain — who had never before won an Olympic match — and triple Olympic champion gymnast Chen Yibing retired after being edged by Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti in the men’s rings final. Olympic champion Zhang Jike suffered a surprise defeat in the team table tennis, to Germany’s Timo Boll, before China advanced to a final against South Korea.
India had mixed fortunes in the boxing, with Vijender Singh going out in the men’s middleweight quarter-finals as he failed to match his 2008 bronze — the country’s first Olympic medal in the sport.
But five-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom guaranteed at least a bronze medal in the first ever Olympic women’s boxing tournament when she beat Tunisia’s Maroua Rahali.
She will now Britain’s Nicola Adams in the flyweight semi-finals.
USA into women’s final after extra-time thriller
The United States advanced to the final of the Olympic women’s football tournament on Monday after an Alex Morgan goal in the last minute of extra-time clinched a dramatic 4-3 victory over Canada. In one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of the tournament, the American women came from behind three times to level at 3-3 in 90 minutes before Morgan’s 120th-minute clincher at Old Trafford. Canada — who had taken the lead three times thanks to a magnificent hat-trick from captain and striker Christine Sinclair — were left shattered by the agonising nature of the loss. The United States will now play Japan in Thursday’s final at Wembley in a rematch of last year’s women’s World Cup final won by the Asian giants.