Japan rallied from a goal down to overcome Sweden and reach the FIFA Women's World Cup final for the first time with a sublime team performance in Frankfurt.
Sweden made the perfect start when Josefine Öqvist gave her side the lead after ten minutes, but thereafter Japan dominated the match and responded with two Nahomi Kawasumi goals either side of Homare Sawa's header.
Though Japan had started brightly with Sawa, Aya Sameshima and Shinobu Ohno instrumental in some neat passing moves, Sweden took advantage of a sloppy pass by Sawa, Öqvist intercepting the ball before racing into the area to clip an angled shot past Ayumi Kaihori.
Undeterred, Norio Sasaki's side reacted well, equalising within ten minutes from a sweeping move involving Mizuho Sakaguchi and Aya Miyama, which was concluded from close range by Kawasumi. Both teams had scored from their only shots at goal, but it was Japan who took control of the midfield, weaving smart passing patterns together.
Ohno was playing well and was unfortunate not to open the second period with a goal when her ambitious half-volley from 30 metres hit the bar. However, Japan continued to swarm and deservedly took the lead just before the hour when Sawa popped up in the right place at the right time to head in her fourth goal of these finals, after Kozue Ando's effort was deflected into her path.
Japan's third goal was a fitting finish to a fine performance, as Hedvig Lindahl was punished for rushing off her line to anticipate a through ball by Kawasumi, who controlled the clearance with one touch, and sent a pinpoint lob into the net from fully 35 metres with the other.
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|21||Ayumi Kaihori (GK)||1||Hedvig Lindahl (GK)|
|2||Yukari Kinga||2||Charlotte Rohlin (C)|
|3||Azusa Iwashimizu||4||Annica Svensson|
|4||Saki Kumagai||6||Sara Thunebro|
|6||Mizuho Sakaguchi||7||Sara Larsson|
|7||Kozue Ando||8||Lotta Schelin|
|10||Homare Sawa (C)|
|15||Aya Sameshima||20||Marie Hammarström|
|1||Nozomi Yamago (GK)||12||Kristin Hammarström (GK)|
|12||Miho Fukumoto (GK)||21||Sofia Lundgren (GK)|
|5||Kyoko Yano||3||Linda Sembrant|
|13||Rumi Utsugi||5||Caroline Seger|
|16||Asuna Tanaka||10||Sofia Jakobsson|
|18||Karina Maruyama||13||Lina Nilsson|
|20||Mana Iwabuchi||19||Madelaine Edlund|
|Norio Sasaki (JPN)||Thomas Dennerby (SWE)|
|Carol Anne Chenard (CAN)|
|Rita Munoz (MEX), Mayte Chavez (MEX)|
|Therese Neguel (CMR)|