Friday, August 3, 2012
Japan women upend Brazil
ESPN.com news services
CARDIFF, Wales -- Yuki Ogimi scored a goal and then set up another to give world champion Japan a 2-0 victory over Brazil on Friday and a place in the semifinals of the women's Olympic soccer competition.
Japan will play France on Monday.
Ogimi's goal came at 27 minutes after she ran onto a quickly taken free kick by Homare Sawa. In the second half, she beat a player, then made a long pass to Shinobu Ohno, who chipped the ball over the Brazilian keeper.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki said he believed the team could make it to the final.
"At the hotel, I told the players this would be a very big game," he said. "I told them to stay focused. They showed spirit. I personally think Japan is a team that can go to Wembley."
Brazil, which has yet to win an Olympic gold medal, settled more quickly, its height and power causing problems for the Japanese.
Captain Marta hit five corners in the first 10 minutes, the final one punched away one-handed by keeper Miho Fukumoto as it swerved into a crowded box.
Brazil's best chance fell to Renata Costa, who fired over the bar from close range after a good cross by Rosana.
Japan got back into the game after the 20-minute mark as Brazil's defense failed to break down its quick-passing play, and made a few errors of its own.
The goal came at 27 minutes after Fabiana fouled Nahomi Kawasumi just inside the Brazilian half.
Sawa's free kick appeared to take the Brazilian defense by surprise. Ogimi took four touches before sidefooting the ball past a motionless Andreia into the right-bottom corner of the net.
Marta, the five-time FIFA player of the year, was booked at 49 minutes for raising her boot close to the head of Mizuho Sakaguchi as she tried to clear a ball from close to the Brazil penalty area.
A few minutes later, Sakaguchi was given a yellow card for knocking down Formiga as she tried to break into the Japanese penalty area. Marta's freekick whistled through the wall but flew just wide of the right post.
Brazil came closest to a tying goal at the hour mark. Christiane rose up between two defenders to a get a free header on goal, but her effort went over.
As the South Americans pressed for a goal, they left gaps in their half that Japan exploited for its second at 72 minutes.
Ogimi picked up a ball kicked from defense on the halfway line and beat a Brazilian player before playing a long, looping pass to Ohno, who was in space in front of the penalty area.
Ohno appeared at first to have taken one too many touches with the ball, but cut back inside to chip over Andreia, the ball bouncing into the net off the underside of the bar.
Brazil has finished second in the last two Olympics, losing to the U.S. both times in the gold-medal match.
Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos said his team was unlucky to lose.
"The football that Japan presented didn't deserve to win," he said. "It sat back, that was its strategy. In the end, we created a lot of opportunities, I think we deserved a better result."
All 18 members of the Japanese squad were in Germany last year when Japan won the World Cup in a penalty shootout against the United States. It has not won a medal at the Olympics in its last three attempts, but has been getting closer, finishing fourth in Beijing.
France 2, Sweden 1
GLASGOW, Scotland -- France advanced to the semifinals by beating Sweden 2-1.
France defenders Laura Georges and Wendie Renard scored a goal each after Sweden captain Nilla Fischer had put her team in the lead in the 17th minute after the ball bounced off her shoulder following a corner kick.
Georges scored with a header in the 29th, and Renard added the other in the 39th.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.