Japan can expect a United States at “full throttle” and bent on revenge on Sunday as the Asian champions bid to defend their title in the Women’s World Cup final. It will be the third showdown between the two sides in a major championship final. Nicknamed ‘the Nadeshiko’ – a pink flower symbolising grace and beauty – Japan won the 2011 World Cup crown in dramatic fashion in Frankfurt, Germany. The United States, World Cup winners in 1991 and 1999, twice relinquished a one-goal lead before succumbing inAi??a penalty shootout. But the Americans took the Olympic gold ahead of Japan in London in 2012. Both squads include many of the same players who were on the pitch in the 2011 final, including all four goal scorers. Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach scored for the United States, while Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama were on target for the Japanese. ‘everything is on the line’ CarliAi??Lloyd was one of three US players […]

Three US players — Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Johnston — were named on Thursday among eight short-listed for the Golden Ball Award given to the best player at the Women’s World Cup. The tournament concludes on Sunday with holders Japan playing the United States in Vancouver in a rematch of the 2011 final. Japan have two candidates for the award — captain Aya Miyama and defender Saori Ariyoshi — Ai??FIFA announced on Thursday. Germany forward Celia Sasic is also among the contenders along with England defender Lucy Bronze. Former two-time winners Germany take on England in the play-off for third place in Edmonton on Saturday. France’s Amandine Henry has also made the short-list, despite her team being eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany on penalties. Midfielder Henry scored a superb goal against Mexico. Lloyd helped lift the United States past Germany in the semi-final with a penalty and a decisive cross for a 2-0 win. Sasic missed a […]

A late own-goal by England defender Laura Bassett put defending champions Japan into the final of the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday with a 2-1 win. Japan next play the two-time winners United States in the final at Vancouver next Sunday after the Americans beat Germany 2-0 in a Tuesday semi-final at Montreal. Japan and England looked to be heading for extra time deadlocked at 1-1 after captain Aya Miyama scored a penalty on 33 minutes at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium only for Fara Williams to level for England five minutes before the break, also from a penalty kick. But two minutes into injury time, Bassett sent the ball into her own net to end her team’s dream run to their first World Cup semi-final. Bassett was in tears after the final whistle and had to be consoled by England coach Mark Sampson as she walked off the field, the Lionesses stunned, shocked and crying at the heartbreaking final turn. “It’s […]

Champions Japan face a real threat from England as the Asian giants look to keep their Women’s World Cup title defence on track in Wednesday’s semi-final in Edmonton. Japan’s ‘Nadeshiko’ are the only unbeaten team left after opening their campaign with a 1-0 win over Switzerland three weeks ago in the sunshine of Vancouver’s west coast. England by contrast started their quest for a maiden title with a 1-0 loss to France in windy and wet conditions on the east in Moncton. But England’s ‘Lionesses’ have been gaining momentum, beating Mexico, Colombia, 1995 champions Norway and hosts Canada all by 2-1 scorelines, to reach their first semi-finals. Japan overran Australia 1-0 in the quarter-finals and have won all their games by a one-goal margin with the impressive depth of their team demonstrated by their seven goals having come from different players. The ‘Nadeshiko’ defence is also solid — they have conceded just two goals in five matches. But England’s front […]

England ended host Canada’s dream at the Women’s World Cup 2-1 on Saturday to advance to their first semi-finals at the tournament where they meet defending champions Japan, 1-0 winners over Australia. Early goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze dampened the cheers of the capacity 54,027 crowd in BC Place Stadium and kept England on track after losing their opening game of the tournament against France. England follow on from their first win in a World Cup knockout game against Norway in the last 16. “They’re history makers again, only the third ever English team to get to a semi-final, we join that ’66 and ’90 club,” said coach Mark Sampson referring to the England men’s team. “The dream’s over, it’s not how we imagined it to end,” said Canadian counterpart John Herdman. “We hadn’t written the script to be 2-0 down that early. Gutted, gutted for all of Canada. “They (England) were hard to break down. They went […]

The Women’s World Cup heats up this weekend with Australia challenging holders Japan and hosts Canada up against England in the quarter-finals. The rerun of last year’s Asian Cup final at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium will see temperatures of 31 degrees celsius, with the heat at ground level set to swell closer to 50 degrees celsius due to the synthetic playing surface. Canada will then go head-to-head with England in Vancouver’s BC Stadium later Saturday, where west coast temperatures are also soaring. But Australia coach Alen Stajcic believes his young side, ranked 10th, can cool the spirits of fourth-ranked Japan, a team the Matildas have played often. “We played Japan twice in the Asian Cup and we fought back to 2-2 in the first game,” he said. “They played us in the final and they managed to beat us 1-0 on a set piece. “We’ve got a big assignment on our hands. We’re up against a very good team, but we’ve […]

Defending ChampionsAi??Japan gave newcomers the Netherlands a lesson in football on Tuesday, winning 2-1 to advance to a last-eight showdown with Australia at the Women’s World Cup. Saori Ariyoshi and Mizuho Sakaguchi scored in either half for the defending champions who are the only team left in Canada to have won all their matches. Kirsten Van de Ven headed in a consolation goal for the 12th-ranked Dutch in injury time, helped by an error from Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, who let the ball slip from her grasp. But the game in Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium was mostly one-way traffic in favour of the Japanese, who have mastered the speed provided by artificial turf being used for the first time at a World Cup. “It’s the best way to improve, a good team will learn a lot from this match,” said Dutch coach Roger Reijners. “You’re playing against the top in the world and things are moving really fast.Ai??It’s an enormous […]

Holders Japan and Olympic champions the United States both kept their title challenges on track as they advanced to the last 16 at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday as group leaders. The United States, beaten in the 2011 final by Japan, eliminated Nigeria 1-0 in front of their passionate fans in Vancouver’s BC Stadium to lead Group D, after the Japanese had earlier beaten Ecuador 1-0 to top Group C. Surprise African newcomers Cameroon are the only side from the continent left as they beat Switzerland 2-1 to advance second in Group C as Australia finished second in Group D after holding Sweden 1-1 in Edmonton. “I think the crowd was amazing and that had a big part in our game tonight,” said USA coach Jill Ellis of the capacity crowd of nearly 53,000 at BC Place Stadium. “I’m pleased with how we played and pleased to be moving out of a tough, tough group,” she added of a […]