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Japan Wins 1st World Cup Title In Penalty Shootout

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Japan's players celebrate after the FIFA Women's Football World Cup final match Japan vs USA on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. (Photo credit: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan’s players celebrate after the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup final match Japan vs USA on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. (Photo credit: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Japan has won the Women’s World Cup, stunning the United States 4-1 in a penalty shootout Sunday night after finishing in a 2-2 tie.

Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all missed penalties for the Americans, who squandered dozens of chances throughout the game and blew a lead just six minutes from winning their third World Cup title.

The Americans had taken the lead in the 104th minute off a header by Abby Wambach. Alex Morgan, who scored the first American goal, came up with a blocked cross and sent it to Wambach, who was camped in front of the goal on the 6-yard line. Standing a head taller — and then some — from defenders on either side of her, she needed only to nod the ball into the net.

But Sawa flicked in corner kick — earned after 36-year-old captain Christie Rampone raced to clear Yukari Kinga’s chip over Hope Solo off the line.

Japan is the first Asian nation to win the World Cup.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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