2011 Women’s World Cup: USA & Japan Progress After Spectacular Semifinals

The USA women's team hit the heights required today to emerge victorious from a hard fought match against their French counterparts.

The US ladies side is now just one step away from clinching the title of world champions and will meet Japan in the final after they beat Sweden in the other semifinal in Germany.

Both sides have reached the final the hard way with Japan in particular today having to come from behind against a tremendous Swedish team to reach the pinnacle of world football.

The US had to overcome tournament favourites Brazil in the last round and found themselves up against England's conquerors France in today's matchup but unlike the Brazil match, didn't leave it until the very last minute of play to keep themselves in the competition.

Lauren Cheney opened the scoring for the USA team after only nine minutes on the clock with a clever flick over the keeper that nestled into the far post, the French nearly equalized before the break but a well lofted chip bounced back into play after striking the crossbar.

For the remainder of the first half, both sides failed to add to the scoreline leaving the Americans in pole position going into the second 45.

However, France equalized soon into the second half when a cross into the box appeared to be missed by all players attempting to reach it and strangely bounced into the back of the net as the bemused Hope Solo watched on awaiting an attempt at goal from the attacking French strikers.
 
But after a tough extra-time match against the Brazilians in the last round, the American players obviously didn't fancy another nail biting extra 30 minutes of play or a penalty shoot out, and 11 minutes from the end, Abby Wambach scored for the third match in a row when she out-jumped the French defence at the back post to regain the lead for her side.

The third and final goal that wrapped up the match for the stars and stripes team came with an Alex Morgan perfectly weighted chip over the out rushing keeper into the back corner of the goal while being chased down by four defenders, starting ecstatic celebrations from the US ladies as they had finally booked their place in the final.

Japan reached the final but done it the hard way after coming from behind to win 3-1 against a well organised and strong Sweden side.

Josefine Oqvist gave the Swedes the lead when she picked up a slack cross field defensive pass but the Japanese equalized only nine minutes after this opening goal with a scuffed effort inside the six yard box.

Japan were the better of the two teams throughout and took the lead on the 60-minute mark with a Sawa header that she picked up from a rebounded clearance.

Only minutes later, a 40-yard lob and contender of goal of the tournament from Kawasumi handed the Asian side a place in the final against the Americans.
 

Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for Bleacher Report as well as Not Just Scottish Football and youth development reporter for Ayr United Football Academy. All quotes are obtained first-hand unless otherwise stated.

USA, Japan Reach Women's World Cup Final in Stunning Semifinals (highlights)

TAGS: , Greg Ryan, Hope Solo, Kate Markgraf, , United States Women's National Team,