John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
Japan's midfielder Homare Sawa (10) scores the go-ahead goal against Sweden in their Women's World Cup semifinal match. Sawa has four goals in the tournament.
Japan's midfielder Homare Sawa (10) scores the go-ahead goal against Sweden in their Women's World Cup semifinal match. Sawa has four goals in the tournament. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
Hours after the U.S. team beat France to return to the Women's World Cup final for the first time since 1999, Japan beat Sweden, 3-1, in their semifinal match. The victory sets up the first game between the American women and the Japanese women in the 2011 tournament.
Sunday's title game is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m., ET.
Japan won despite falling behind early to Sweden, 1-0. But within minutes, they tied the score, and then Japan cruised to victory by adding two more goals in the second half. In group play last week, Sweden beat the United States, 2-1.
The U.S. women have played Japan twice this year, beating them 2-0 each time. But those were warmup games. And the Japanese women proved they can compete with any team in the world when they beat World Cup host Germany in the quarterfinals.
Earlier Wednesday, the Americans locked down their appearance in the final with a game against France that was tense until two late goals put the matter beyond doubt. The U.S. team's 3-1 victory came despite taking fewer shots and possessing the ball for less time than their French counterparts.
"We've achieved part of our goal. We're in the final," U.S. striker Abby Wambach said after Wednesday's match. "We want to complete it. We want to be world champs."
Wambach admitted that the French team occasionally outplayed the Americans. But she said that she never had doubt in her teammates.
"In the end, we're in the finals, and that's all that matters."