Defeat will take time to get over, says US coach

FRANKFURT, Germany, July 18, 2011 (AFP) - USA coach Pia Sundhage said it will take time to get over the penalty shoot-out defeat to Japan in the women's World Cup final, having twice thrown away the lead.

The Americans were denied a third world title, after their victories in 1991 and 1999, despite dominating most of Sunday's final, which had ended 2-2 in extra-time, before Japan held their nerve with a 3-1 win in the shoot-out.

"I'm disappointed, and yes we won silver. Hopefully I can feel that in a few weeks," said Sundhage.

"We gave the crowd a good game, it will be a final to remember and a credit to both teams.

"Playing in the final at the highest level, you have to take your chances, and we weren’t sharp enough with the two goals conceded and that is why we didn’t win."

AFP - USA's Swedish head coach Pia Sundhage gestures during the final match Japan vs USA

Japan fought back twice and captain Homare Sawa's header, three minutes from the end of extra-time, tied the scores at 2-2 to take the game to penalties after the Japanese were reduced to 10 players.

In the shoot-out, Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori saved twice before defender Saki Kumagai hit the winning spot-kick.

The Americans had taken the lead in the 69th minute through substitute striker Alex Morgan, only for Aya Miyama to poach an equaliser after a mix-up in the American defence in the 81st minute to force extra time.

US striker Abby Wambach then put her side ahead early in extra-time, before Sawa, who won the golden boot as the tournament's top scorer, levelled.

The Japanese had defender Azusa Iwashimizu sent off in the 121st minute for a foul on Morgan.

This was Japan's first win over the Americans at the 26th time of trying and Sundhage praised the Asian side, who won their first World Cup title, by saying their fighting spirit could only benefit women's football.

"There is something to be said about the way Japan plays," she said.

"They are comfortable with the ball even when they are behind and that kind of thing is good for women’s football."

Sundhage also praised hosts Germany and said the standard had been raised for the next women's World Cup in Canada in 2015.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Germany," said the 51-year-old.

"This experience has been phenomenal and the bar has been set very high moving forward."

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