Japan beats NKorea for Asian Games football gold – World Soccer

Japan won its first Asian Games women’s football gold medal by beating the defending champion North Koreans 1-0 on Monday in a fiercely contested final.

After a scoreless first half, defender Azusa Iwashimizu broke through with her historic header in the 74th minute, helping her jubilant team claim the Asian Games title.

The disciplined and experienced Japanese, led by U.S.-based midfielders Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama, managed to keep the determined North Koreans from scoring the rest of the game.

The win was retribution for Japan’s 2006 loss to the top-seeded North Koreans in a penalty shootout at the last Asian Games in Doha.

“Four years ago we lost to North Korea in the final. Now we are here, we are four years older and we have a better mentality that helped us win,” Japan captain Aya Miyama said. “As I was listening to our national anthem from the podium, I was more calmed than excited.”

The North Koreans blamed fatigue after a difficult, 2-1 extra time win over South Korea in the semifinals.

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