Defender Saki Kumagai had the honour of hitting home the decisive spot-kick as Japan triumphed 3-1 in the shootout. USA were twice pegged back but it took Homare Sawa to equalise three minutes from the end of extra time to force penalties.
USA created numerous goalscoring opportunities throughout the match but Aya Miyama’s goal nine minutes from the end of the 90 minutes forced extra time, after Alex Morgan had given the Stars and Stripes the lead on 69 minutes. Abby Wambach seemed set to have scored the winner on 104 minutes until Sawa’s late intervention.
While a key element of Japan’s run to winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup was their team ethic and synchronised style of play, the star of the side was undoubtedly Homare Sawa.
The midfielder finished the tournament as the top scorer with five goals, and added the Player of the Tournament award to her Golden Boot. By scoring Japan’s second goal, the No10 also became the oldest goalscorer ever in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. As willing to work back and help her defence as she was adept in creating and finishing chances, Sawa thoroughly deserved her recognition.
“Before the tournament we came here to go for the championship and to at least break into the final four. We came here for a medal but I could never have imagined winning it and I could never have imagined collecting the Golden Boot as well as being a world champion.This is my fifth World Cup and I did nothing in the previous four so I’m very happy with the result today. I’ve been a national team member for 18 years so this has been a long, long wait. I’ve been through the difficult times for women’s football in Japan so I really feel relieved. It doesn’t feel like reality”, Sawa said for fifa.com after the game.