Japan, France advance to Women's World Cup semifinals
Japan beat two-time defending champion Germany 1-0 in a Women's World Cup quarterfinal match in Wolfsburg, Germany.
WOLFSBURG, Germany — Japan knocked two-time defending champion Germany out of the Women's World Cup on Saturday, advancing to the semifinals with a 1-0 victory when substitute Karina Maruyama outran the defense and scored on an angled shot in extra time.
Japan absorbed relentless pressure during the match, gaining its first World Cup semifinal and handing Germany its first setback in the tournament in a dozen years.
Standout midfielder Homare Sawa spotted Maruyama's deep run in the 108th minute, served her perfectly and Maruyama slipped the ball past goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to silence the sellout crowd of 26,067 and an expectant nation.
The 32-year-old Sawa's field vision and passing earned her the award as player of the match.
"I take my hat off to her," Germany coach Silvia Neid said. "It is her fifth World Cup and she still plays so well."
Germany's fear of elimination appeared to douse its creativity.
In the end, it was the "Japanese game" coach Norio Sasaki promised that made the difference — one precision pass and lightness of feet outdid two hours of grinding by the hosts.
Germany had not lost a World Cup match going back to a quarterfinal defeat to the United States in 1999.
The loss meant the likely end of the World Cup career of 33-year-old German Birgit Prinz, the tournament's all-time leading scorer.
LEVERKUSEN, Germany — France edged England 4-3 on penalties in a quarterfinal match when England captain Faye White missed the decisive kick. The match ended 1-1 after extra time.
"It's very beautiful. Life is great. We worked so hard for this," said emotional France coach Bruno Bini. "There's a certain magic to football."
England hasn't defeated France in almost 37 years.
Elise Bussaglia of France tied the score in the 88th minute after Jill Scott's 59th-minute goal for England.
"Unfortunately, again, England get knocked out on penalties," England coach Hope Powell said.
"How boring is that?"