FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 13: Lisa Dahlkvist of Sweden (L) challenges Nahomi Kawasumi of Japan (R) during the FIFA Women's World Cup Semi Final match between Japan and Sweden at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 13, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

Women's World Cup 2011 Semifinals, Sweden Vs. Japan: Brilliant Performance Sends Japan Through To Final

After a brilliant 3-1 win over Sweden, Japan have advanced to the final of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup where they will take on the United States.

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Women's World Cup 2011, Sweden Vs. Japan: Final Score, Japan Advances To Final Vs. USA With 3-1 Win

In their last two matches, Sweden has scored deserved, convincing wins over the United States and Australia. Star attacking players Lotta Schelin and Caroline Seger were both finding their form and finding some chemistry between one another. They were coming into their 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal match feeling confident that they could beat a Japan team who, despite upsetting Germany, shouldn't have been able to deal with Sweden's combination of size and skill. And ultimately, Sweden were completely outplayed.

With an absolutely brilliant performance, Japan are through to the World Cup final against the United States with a 3-1 win over Sweden. They passed the ball and held their shape perfectly throughout the game, they created more shots and set pieces, and their goalkeeping was far superior. The final goal, the one that sealed the deal for Japan, was a 35 yard chip that was arguably the goal of the tournament. Their performance had everything, and they are beyond deserving finalists.

Sweden scored the opening goal of the game - a brilliant strike by Josefine Öqvist - but the next three goals came from Japan. The first and second were both small gifts, with Sweden making serious errors that led to easy finishes, but the third goal was anything but. Picking up a clearance from Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl in the 64th minute, Nahomi Kawasumi hit a 35 yard chip that appeared to defy physics, dipping just below the crossbar at the last second.

Japan's win sets up yet another skill versus athleticism battle for Japan. They've won the first two, but the United States have beaten Japan multiple times this year in warm-up games for the World Cup. The two teams will meet in Frankfurt for the title on Sunday.

For all of our coverage of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinals, give our Sweden vs. Japan and USA vs. France StoryStreams a read.


Women's World Cup 2011, Sweden Vs. Japan: Homare Sawa, Nahomi Kawasumi Both Score Goals

Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl is not having a good day. After 60 minutes of football in which Sweden was hanging with a superior Japan side, a couple of errors by Lindahl have lead to two Japan goals, and they now lead 3-1. Their ticket to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup final against the United States is all but punched, thanks to a couple of goals by Homare Sawa and Nahomi Kawasumi.

The first goal came off of a bad punch by Lindahl. As she went up to clear a cross, she completely mis-hit her punch and the ball fell to Sawa, Japan's leading goal scorer. With a lobbed header, Sawa put the ball into the back of the net, scoring her fourth goal of the tournament.

Kawasumi's goal, though it was also assisted by a Lindahl error, was much more impressive. Once again, Lindahl made a poor clearance, with this one falling to the feet of Kawasumi about 35 yards from goal. She hit a tip over the top of the Swedish keeper and the ball dropped just before the crossbar, hitting the goal like before bouncing in as if it had dropped straight down instead of traveling 35 yards. Take that, geometry.

For updates on the Women's World Cup match between Japan and Sweden, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For all of the coverage from the earlier semifinal, check out our USA vs. France StoryStream.


Women's World Cup 2011, Sweden Vs. Japan: Score Tied 1-1 At Halftime

Sweden scored just ten minutes into their 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal matchup against Japan, but since that time, the Japanese have been the better side, outplaying Sweden in just about every aspect of the game. They've been the better passing side and they have created more shots and more set piece opportunities. They're taking Caroline Seger and Lotta Schelin out of the game. And yet, the score is locked up at 1-1, with Sweden still very much in the game.

The first goal came off of a brilliant strike by Josefine Öqvist, but she contributed to Japan's goal when a shot by Nahomi Kawasumi deflected off of her. At the moment it's listed as Kawasumi's goal, but it could very well be changed to an own goal.

It would be surprising to see Schelin and Seger fail to assert themselves in the second half, but it would be equally surprising if Japan continued to create shots and set piece opportunities without scoring another goal. It's a fascinating and close match, and the second half should be even better than the first.

For updates on the Women's World Cup match between Japan and Sweden, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For all of the coverage from the earlier semifinal, check out our USA vs. France StoryStream.


Women's World Cup 2011, Sweden Vs. Japan: Both Teams Net Early Goals

Sweden and Japan are off to an absolutely cracking start in their 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal, with both teams having scored a goal in the opening 20 minutes. Both teams are loaded with impressive technical players while they're lacking in big-name, dominating defenders, so it's not terribly shocking that the goals are coming in early. Sweden forward Josefine Öqvist has contributed a lot to the game early, scoring the opening goal for her team and making an error on Japan's equalizer. Though the goal is currently being credited to Nahomi Kawasumi of Japan, it will likely be made an own goal.

The first goal was set up by an uncharacteristic error, committed by Japanese star Homare Sawa. Trying to make a risky pass to one of her defenders, she missed the presence of Öqvist, who stole the ball and went on a surging run before hitting a screamer into the back of the net.

Japan's goal was created by a cross by Aya Miyama and a shot by Kawasumi, but Öqvist helped it along with a deflection into her own net.


Sweden Vs. Japan, Women's World Cup 2011 Semifinals: Lineups

Sweden will face Japan in the semifinals of the Women's World Cup, a surprising matchup that will determine the United States' opponent in the finals. Sweden's starting lineup will be led by Lisa Dahlkvist, who has scored two goals for them so far in the tournament, and Caroline Seger the star winger, who has so far been kept off the scoresheet.

Japan will be led by Homare Sowa, who has scored a tournament leading three goals in Japan's four matches. Aya Miyama has been their main playmaker, registering two assists. Karina Maruyama, Japan's hero in the quarterfinals, will start the match on the bench.

Sweden starters: Lindahl - Rohlin, Svensson, Seger, Thunebro, Larsson, Schelin, Qvist, Sjorgran, Forsberg, Dahlkvist. Bench: Sembrant, Landstrom, Jakobsson, Goransson, K Hammarstrom, Nilsson, Edlund, M Hammarstrom, Lundgren

Japan starters: Kaihori - Kinga, Iwashimizu, Kumagai, Sakaguchi, Ando, Miyama, Kawasumi, Sawa, Ohno, Sameshima. Bench: Yamago, Yano, Fukumoto, Utusgi, Kamionobe, Tanaka, Nagasato, Maruyama, Takese, Iwabuchi


Women's World Cup 2011 Semifinals, Sweden Vs. Japan: Preview

In the United States, all eyes are on the early game in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, where the USA are taking on France. However, should the United States win that game, there's no doubt that the late game between Sweden and Japan will suddenly get just as much attention, and why shouldn't it? It's already getting equal time from the neutrals, as Sweden and Japan are just as intriguing as the USWNT and France. Regardless of the result of the first match, it's going to be a fantastic one that's well worth your time.

Sweden got off to a slow start in the tournament, scraping by with 1-0 wins over teams they should have defeated easily in their first two games, but they have seriously found their form in their last two against the United States and Australia. Mostly, that seems to be because Lotta Schelin has found her form. Labeled as the female Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Schelin was poor in the first two matches, but very dangerous against the U.S. and unquestionably brilliant against Australia.

It wasn't particularly stunning that a team as good as Sweden was able to defeat the United States, but it was surprising that they were able to do it while Caroline Seger, their best player in their first two games, was suspended for yellow card accumulation. With Seger back in the lineup and Schelin back in form against Australia, Sweden finally reached their potential and put together their best performance of the tournament.

Their combination of form, speed, and skill makes them the slight favorites to win this tournament going into the semifinals, but their semifinal opponents are no slouches. Japan, the team in this tournament most often compared to Barcelona for their slick passing style, beat the favorites Germany in their quarterfinal match.

Had Japan not been able to keep the ball and frustrate Germany to no end in the quarterfinals, it would be hard to envision a match in which Japan would not eventually succumb to the size and speed that Sweden has on their roster. However, Germany did not have a playmaking player like Seger...or at least they didn't use her. Lira Barjamaj was left on the bench by Germany against Japan, but Sweden will have their version of Lira on the pitch from the start. Schelin is also a much better playmaking forward than Inka Grings. Germany's problems stemmed from a lack of creativity in breaking down Japan. Sweden shouldn't have that problem.

Japan will do a fair bit of keeping the ball and they might be able to frustrate Sweden in doing so, but they shouldn't be able to keep Sweden off the scoreboard like they did against Germany. If they can score a few of their own, they're in business, but Sweden definitely enter this match as the favorites to advance to the final.

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