Japan wins 1st World Cup title in penalty shootout

July 17, 2011 - 5:29 PM
Germany Soccer WWCup Final Japan USA

United States' Abby Wambach, right, celebrates scoring her side's second goal during the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Japan has won the Women's World Cup, stunning the United States 4-1 in a penalty shootout Sunday night after finishing in a 2-2 tie.

Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all missed penalties for the Americans, who squandered dozens of chances throughout the game and blew a lead just six minutes from winning their third World Cup title.

The Americans had taken the lead in the 104th minute off a header by Abby Wambach. Alex Morgan, who scored the first American goal, came up with a blocked cross and sent it to Wambach, who was camped in front of the goal on the 6-yard line. Standing a head taller — and then some — from defenders on either side of her, she needed only to nod the ball into the net.

But Sawa flicked in corner kick — earned after 36-year-old captain Christie Rampone raced to clear Yukari Kinga's chip over Hope Solo off the line.

Japan is the first Asian nation to win the World Cup.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Women's World Cup final is headed to penalty kicks, tied 2-2 after regulation after Homare Sawa's goal in the 117th minute.

The Americans had taken the lead in the 104th minute off a header by Abby Wambach. Alex Morgan, who scored the first American goal, came up with a blocked cross and sent it to Wambach, who was camped in front of the goal on the 6-yard line. Standing a head taller — and then some — from defenders on either side of her, she needed only to nod the ball into the net.

But Sawa flicked in a corner kick — earned after 36-year-old captain Christie Rampone raced to clear Yukari Kinga's chip over Hope Solo off the line.

The Americans beat China on penalty kicks to win the 1999 title.