World Cup holders Japan
thrashed Brazil 4-1 on Thursday to win the three-team Kirin Cup
and deliver a blow to women's Olympic champions the United
States in the run-up to the London Games.
Yuika Sugasawa's clinical near-post flick in the 89th minute
gave hosts Japan the title on goals scored after a 1-1 opening
draw with the Americans, who beat Brazil 3-0.
"The players kept pushing and never stopped battling," Japan
coach Norio Sasaki told reporters. "That's what this team is all
"Winning the title is a boost and with 111 days to the
London Olympics, hopefully there's a lucky omen in that for us."
Brazil captain Daiane headed an own goal to give Japan an
early advantage in the 16th minute in windy Kobe.
The South Americans equalised on the stroke of halftime when
midfielder Francielle curled in a superb free kick.
But Japan regained the lead through Yuko Nagasato's header
13 minutes into the second half, before captain Aya Miyama, pictured, fired
a third moments later as the home side took control.
Sugasawa darted in front of her marker to meet a superb
cross from right-back Yukari Kinga to add the late fourth and
sting the world number one Americans once again.
Named after a frilly pink flower, Japan's 'Nadeshiko'
stunned the mighty U.S. on penalties in the World Cup final in
Frankfurt last July to become the first Asian side to win a
Their astonishing World Cup victory gave a traumatised
nation a psychological boost after last year's deadly tsunami,
which triggered a nuclear crisis north of Tokyo.
"It was a team effort tonight," said Miyama. "We're not
quite at 100 percent yet but we're positive about peaking for
London. We want to prove we're the world's best again."
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