Frankfurt, Germany (CNN) — The Japanese women’s soccer team won the World Cup after defeating the United States on penalty kicks Sunday night, rallying from a pair of one-goal deficits to capture its first-ever world title.
Japan had come into the tournament as sentimental favorites, helping rally a nation that had been devastated by a March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster. For the United States, it was more a disappointment — especially considering that the team twice relinquished leads.
While the U.S. had the most chances during the run of play, the Japanese dominated the penalty-kick phase 3-1 to earn the win. The Americans dug themselves a hole by missing their first three kicks.
“We lost to a great team, we really did,” U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo told ESPN, which broadcast the game. “I truly believe that something bigger was pulling for this team.”