Final score - after penalties - 120'
(3)2 - 2(1)
Women's World Cup
18:45 +00:00, July 17, 2011
Frankfurt FIFA WWC Stadium, Germany
So... Japan are the winners of the 2011 Women's World Cup. There can't be any arguments - what a brave, heroic performance. No shame in defeat for the USA who were the better team on the evening, but were ultimately undone by Japan's incredible spirit. Thanks for following this evening's commentary.
Great composure after Solo's attempts to put her off.
Kumagai wins the World Cup for Japan with a superb penalty!!
USA fight on. Wambach converts her penalty when she had to score. 2-1 to Japan.
2-0 to Japan. Sagakuchi's effort creeps under Solo.
USA miss again! Another good save from Kaihori, who has performed brilliantly.
Nagasato misses after a poor penalty. Shades of Gareth Southgate at Euro '96...
Lloyd fires well over the bar for the USA. Two penalties for the USA, and neither has been scored.
Miyama converts for Japan. 1-0. A cool penalty.
Boxx misses! A great save from Kaihori.
First penalty to be taken by the USA.
A real gutsy performance from both sides. Japan have done superbly to survive the USA's pressure in the first-half and equalise - twice - when on the brink of defeat.
Penalties it is, then.
Heroic defending from Japan, who literally throw themselves in front of the ball to prevent a goal.
Free-kick to the USA in a dangerous position on the edge of the box.
2 mins of added time.
Could there be any more drama, tonight?
Iwashimuzu off. Last defender preventing a goalscoring chance; she had to go.
Wambach now firing over. Will that be USA's last chance?
2 minutes remain, then. Penalties await.
A deserved equaliser for Japan, it must be said. What heart. But both teams have been very gutsy, all evening.
Sawa does really well to send the corner towards goal which is deflected by Wambach and past Solo. What a game.
Japan close to equalising again! Kinga - who shows great stamina to continually cover so much ground - ghosts into the penalty box but the ball is cleared just wide. Corner to Japan.
Heath instantly bringing energy into the game, finding some space down the left before being tackled.
Heath replaces Rapinhoe, who's been one of USA's biggest threats, tonight.
Japan so very nearly forcing an equaliser! Clumsy goalkeeping from Solo. If the ball had fallen to a Japanese player then no doubt it would now be 2-2. USA really pushing their luck.
Some glum faces amongst the Japanese fans, naturally.
Ten minutes to go, then. The game possibly slipping away from Japan, now.
Shot from Maruyama that heads wide without threatening the USA goal. The potential for an equaliser remains, nonetheless.
Japan beginning to panic USA's defence with some pressure in their penalty box. Confusion caused but without a telling effort on goal. Japan unfortunate to not be awarded a free-kick following a foul.
USA clearly happy not to press and to let Japan have possession, as long as the ball stays in Japan's half.
Japan continuing to play patiently. Shows impressive belief in their tactics, but will it stretch USA enough to get that equaliser?
Game kicks off, again.
USA are just 15 minutes from World Cup glory, can they hold out?
Half-time in extra-time.
Will the USA try to contain Japan, or will they go for another? With so many tired minds and bodies, it's difficult to rule out an error leading to another goal for either side.
Cruel on Japan, to be honest, but a good goal from the USA.
Wambach with a routine header at the near post following a good cross from the left.
GOAL 2-1 USA!
Japan now getting boxed in - somewhat - with the USA sending in a dangerous cross, only for it to be headed clear by the Japanese defence. Spirited display from the underdogs.
Kinga with a long-range effort that fails to threaten the USA goal.
USA's fatigue sees them resort to long balls, perhaps hopeful of scoring a similar goal to their opener.
Goal-kick for the USA.
Stalemate so far in extra-time. As has been the case for most of the evening, there's been a slight lack of quality in the final third and neither side currently looks like scoring.
Miyama booked for dissent.
Those fatigued bodies are making mistakes; poor passes continue to concede possession from both sides.
Wambach carves a good opportunity for herself, turning a defender but firing wide with her left foot.
Nasty foul there, from O'Reilly. Free-kick to Japan.
Rapidoe with a hopeful - at best - cross that goes out for a goal-kick.
Japan keeping possession in defence, once more. They're seemingly content to be patient, again. There's no sense of urgency or momentum from either side, just yet.
Japan defending very bravely, blocking any efforts the USA can muster.
Corner to USA. Everyone looking increasingly tired out there.
USA kick-off. Again. Extra-time begins.
What drama and excitement. Great effort from everyone out on the pitch. USA coach Pia Sundhage is addressing her troops out on the pitch ahead of the restart.
Extra time it is, then.
Great defending from O'Reilly, thwarting one final attack from Japan.
O'Reilly fires over. Never looked like going in.
Great drama in Frankfurt. 2 mins of added time as USA continue to prope Japan's defence without succeeding testing Kaihori, the goalkeeper.
Good skill from Mariyama as she spreads the play out wide for another dangerous cross. The ball eventually comes to Sakuguchi but her effort is tame and goes well wide.
Who will be tonight's heroine? The game is crying out for someone to produce one moment of magic.
Another dangerous cross from Japan's Kinga, but no-one able to convert it.
Some tired legs are obviously on display with both sides losing shape. Play beginning to stretch with ease.
Rapinoe's corner sent into dangerous territory but is well cleared by Japan. Defiant defending taking place.
Corner to USA.
Some frantic play is developing in Frankfurt. Anyone's guess as to what will follow, here. Full credit goes to Japan for not giving up.
O'Reilly with a cross across the face of goal from the right wing that goes out for a goal-kick.
Japan are now in the ascendency, almost creating another goalscoring opportunity. The USA look crestfallen.
A dangerous cross isn't cleared properly - despite three attempts - before Miyama stabs the ball home.
GOAL Japan equalise! 1-1!
USA again looking the more organised of the two teams and content to keep the ball.
A hopefull ball from Japan over the top of the USA defence goes out for a goal-kick. The clock continues to run down...
Taking a risk is fine and exactly what is needed, but there's little to gain from conceding the ball so cheaply.
Another hopeful, wild pass from Japan concedes possession to the USA which, of course, is exactly what the Americans want.
Hope Solo collecting a Japan cross and happy to take her time to redistribute it.
Japan concede a free-kick from a dangerous position but, when taken, it's calmly collected by Kaihori, who so far has had a very good game.
Japan are now looking the desperate, frustrated side. Looking for the long ball - which for them has been ineffective - and misplacing passes.
Seems tough on Japan, and it will be hard to get back in this game, considering their reliance on countering the USA. On the balance of play, though, the Americans deserve the lead.
Is that the game over? A ball over the top to substitute Alex Morgan with a neat finish.
GOAL USA open the scoring!
Bold decisions by Japan, to replace their captain.
Ando replaced by Nagasato.
Ohno replaced by Maruyama.
A corner from the USA, following a good save by Kaihori, again comes to nothing. They really need to try and take advantage of their physical advantages.
Japan with an increasingly spirited display, typified by Ando's impressive defending back by her own penalty box.
Floated high into the box but eventually back out for another corner, which is also wasted.
Rapinoe to take.
USA with a corner, now. They could really do with this.
Kinga with a poor effort after finding some space in the USA's penalty box. Slices the ball wide when well placed.
Japan continue to look for the through-ball to Ando. She's making the right runs but doesn't quite have the necessary pace to make it worthwhile.
Japanese defence doubling up on Rapinoe, following the dangerous role she played in the first half. An interesting tactical gambit that has thus far succeeded.
Japan are looking more optimistic as they game goes on. Maybe they can sense frustration from the USA. The Americans certainly don't look as fluid as they did in the opening 45.
A dangerous looking Japanese corner just evades everyone in the penalty box, releasing USA for another attack.
Corner to Japan following a decent move.
Japan looking comfortable in possession in midfield. A significant improvement on the first-half.
Ohno nearly opens up the USA defence. A good example of defending, then. The game looking much more even than the first-half.
A through ball from Rapinoe surprises Wambach who perhaps didn't expect the ball to reach her. Wasteful effort.
A hopeful effort from Lloyd as she hits the side netting. She didn't really have any other options, though.
Will American heads drop if they don't open the scoring, soon? They certainly will if Japan do.
Play has taken a similar pattern to the first half, with Japan again seemingly content to play counter-attacking football.
Is that the closest yet, from the USA? An effort hits the post, followed by a scramble under the crossbar that is somehow sent clear. Positive omens perhaps, for Japan?
A terrible misplaced pass from the USA, straight across field, leads to them conceding a free-kick to Japan.
Hope Solo collects possession and plays the ball out to her defence as the USA look to build play up more patiently.
USA head the ball out for a Japanese throw in.
Here we go, then. Second half begins as the USA kick off.
HT Martin Keown is still backing the USA. Provided they can put their chances away...
HT By the same token, however, the pressure being applied by USA and the physical advantages they have could tire the Japanese and force an error, somewhere. They've stretched the play and have looked more dangerous, whereas Japan have usually reacted on the counter-attack. An entertaining half, overall.
HT Will the USA suffer as a result of wasting so many good opportunities? Japan, too, have come close to scoring, but not in the same way. If Japan can create a real scoring opportunity - as opposed to threatening the defence before failing at the last - then one goal could be enough.
The half-time whistle blows, with no injury time. Emblematic of a game that has been open and flowed rather freely.
Japan threatening and getting behind the USA defence. Good work from Ohno, again. This game is far from a foregone conclusion.
Unlucky there for Japan - a masterful cross from Ohno, showing delightful technique, is just out of Ando's reach.
Japan appear content to keep it that way, too. Perhaps USA will tire themselves out and get frustrated?
It looks like it could well be 0-0 at half-time. Who'd have thought it given USA's impressive start?
Scrappy in Japan's penalty box as they fail to completely clear the danger and give USA a chance to cross. A free-kick is conceded to relieve the pressure on Japan but, fortunately for them, Kaihori looks alert. A good game from her, so far.
Japan completely waste their free-kick. Perhaps deterred by the USA's aerial prowess, but giving the ball away like that - straight from the free-kick - is a complete waste.
Rapinoe looks to play Lauren Cheney in but the American striker concedes a free-kick as a result of her physical play.
Japan intercept possession but the ball over the top to Ando is both predictable and unthreatening.
Corner taken but the subsequent shot is a waste as it flies over the bar.
Impressive passing by Japan as they move the ball the whole way into USA's penalty box before a crucial interception preventing any Japanese efforts on goal. Corner.
Japan, seemingly encouraged by their earlier successes down the left, continue to probe to look for an opening.
As predicted, USA are dominating the aerial battles.
USA close, yet again! A good long ball over the top of the Japanese defence that was headed just over by Chaney.
Birthday girl: German chancellor Angela Merkel gets her glasses on
A reminder to the USA, perhaps, that they cannot continue to waste these opportunities.
Promising play from Japan, then, as a constructive through-ball splits the USA defence and provides a good shooting chance. Only a goal missing, from that.
A warning there, for Japan who so far are looking every-inch the underdogs (as many expected).
So close again for the USA! The closest yet. A sensational effort from Wambach who hits the underside of the bar. Keeper well beaten. Japan again lucky.
Any moves in the final third from Japan are so far more hopeful and wild as opposed to calculated. Good positioning from the USA defence.
Corner over with, but ball still not out of danger, Japan still on the attack but cannot seem to find that opening.
Krieger with a good interception there, conceding a throw-in to Japan from a dangerous position. Resulting play leads to Japan corner.
Well defended by Japan as Sawa guards the ball and sees it out for a goal-kick. Good leadership from the skipper.
A USA corner ends in the ball being collected by Kaihori after minimal threat on her goal.
The game appears to have settled down now, somewhat. There's still some poor decision making in evidence, but the pressure on the Japanese goal has lessened, to an extent.
Dangerous looking cross from Japan after finding some space on the left-wing, but ultimately fruitless, with no-one there to convert it.
Foul conceded by Rapinoe in the Japanese half.
Goal-kick from USA.
USA seemingly uncomfortable keeping the ball at the back, as another long-ball goes to waste and provides Japan with a shooting opportunity.
Japan again looking to build from the back, then.
Good pressure from USA near the half-way line. Forcing Japan into errors and into conceding possession.
USA in possession now, in midfield, and spreading the play wide. The move ends in a wasteful cross, before Kaihori recollects in the Japanase goal.
Japan running themselves into trouble in defence. They'll need more composure if they're to a get a real grip on this game.
Rapinoe continuing to threaten from the left wing! A lovely one-two opens up some space in the penalty box before she fires against the post. Poor decision making, although good effort.
Lloyd again firing over for the USA. Nothing more than a hopeful effort, though - no real promise.
A poor long ball from USA again, leaving Japan back in possession. Sam Allardyce would have winced at that.
The USA continue to box Japan into their own half. Brief respite for the Japanese, in one respect, who before now could have conceded several times.
Japan again in possession in defence with the USA seemingly happy to let them be in that position. No pressure from the American strikers.
...until a hopeless long ball goes to waste.
Japan trying to build from the back, more patiently.
Will Japan continue to ride their luck? Or will USA eventually rue these missed chances? USA certainly the more settled of the two sides.
USA again so close! Rapinoe, this time, as she fires just wide!
Promising cross from the USA not cleared properly, with the free ball fired just over from Lloyd.
Japan seemingly bereft of ideas just then, when on the attack. Ball goes out for a goal-kick.
Japan won't be able to keep this sort of pressure off of them for the entire game. Two fortunate escapes.
Another close effort by the USA, this time from Wambach. A decent effort sent just too high.
Great work on the wing from Rapinoe, but sent just wide from Cheney.
So close for the USA, then! Almost opening the scoring, there!
...and straight back out, this time for the USA.
Ball goes out for Japan's throw-in.
USA launching long, hopeful but ultimately wasteful balls forward. Another goalkick for Japan.
A lively start, then! Plenty of promise - just the final ball missing, so far.
Good pressure from Japan again in midfield, once again dispossessing USA.
A promising attack from the USA finds Japan back in possession following another misplaced pass. It's threatening to get scrappy in midfield.
Perhaps some early nerves on display? A promising through-ball from Japan proves a touch too heavy.
USA give the ball away to Japan, but their attack is thwarted.
Another attempt from the USA, goes out for a free-kick.
Well defended by Japan. Ball sent clear and USA are back in possession.
One of those dangerous USA set-pieces...
USA already threatening Japan. A good save, now for the corner.
Final talks taking place amongst the teams before they kick-off. Here we go...
There's a lively, positive atmosphere at the stadium. Those in attendance clearly can't wait for the kick-off.
Here come the national anthems...
Japan unchanged from their semi-final victory over Sweden, then. And why would they change?
Subs: Maruyama, Yamago, Yano, Fukumoto, Nagasoto, Utsugi, Takase, Iwabuchi, Kamionobe, Tanaka.
Japan line-up: Kaihori, Kumagai, Iwashimizu, Sameshima, Kinga, Sakaguchi, Sawa, Miyama, Ohno, Ando, Kawashumi.
Subs: Rodriguez, Heath, Cox, Loyden, Morgan, Barnhart, Sauerbrunn, Mitts, Lindsey, O'Hara.
USA line-up: Solo, Buehler, Rampone, LePeilbet, Krieger, Boxx, Lloyd, Rapinoe, O'Reilly, Cheney, Wambach.
One change in the USA line-up, then, from the side that started the dramatic semi-final victory over Brazil. Megan Rapinoe has replaced Amy Rodriguez, who's amongst tonight's substitutes.
Join Declan Warrington at 1945 BST as Japan look to shock the World by beating the United States to be crowned champions for the first ever time.
Saki Kumagai will need to be at the peak of her powers to contain more experienced opponent Abby Wambach