Japan has won the Women's World Cup, stunning the United States 3-1 in a penalty shootout Sunday night after coming from behind twice in a 2-2 tie.
Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all failed to convert 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.
"This is obviously going to hurt for a while," said Abby Wambach, whose only hole in her glittering career is the World Cup title.
Japan had not beaten the Americans in their first 25 meetings, including a pair of 2-0 losses in warm-up games a month before the World Cup. But the Nadeshiko played inspired throughout the tournament, hoping their success could provide an emotional lift to their nation, still reeling from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
After being presented with the gold trophy, Japan's players jumped up and down on the podium, then gathered behind a sign reading "Champions. World Champions."