Just over a year after celebrating a stunning victory in the World Cup, Japanese fans were disappointed on Aug. 10 after their team lost 2-1 to the United States in the final of the Olympic women's football tournament.
Bars and restaurants that showed the game in central Tokyo were packed for the 3:45 a.m. (1845 GMT Aug. 9) kickoff, with fans decked out in the national team's uniforms.
Japan was looking for another emotional win over the U.S., but Carli Lloyd's two goals meant the country had to settle for silver -- its first medal in women's football.
"It was a good game, but I'm very disappointed," said Yasuhiro Koyama, a 29-year-old office worker who stayed up all night to watch the match. "We had our chances but couldn't take advantage."
Chants of "Nippon!, Nippon!" grew louder after Yuki Ogimi cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 63rd minute. But the end was not a glorious one for Japan.
"Given that the United States is such a good team the result is not surprising," said student Takeshi Sakata.
"Getting the silver is an impressive result at the Olympics and shows you how far Japanese soccer has progressed."
The women's team goes by the name "Nadeshiko," a pink mountain flower that symbolizes beauty and strength.
Japan beat the United States 3-1 on a penalty shootout in Germany 13 months ago to win the World Cup, a triumph that was a psychological salve for a nation recovering from a triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
There were hopes for another uplifting win over the Americans but the mood became tense when Lloyd opened the scoring just eight minutes in and doubled the lead early in the second half.
"It's difficult to come from two goals down," said student Yukie Nakano. "But you have to give them credit. They fought hard and brought a lot of excitement to Japan."
Japan was bidding to become the first team to win the World Cup and Olympics in back-to-back years.
The Americans advanced to the final with a last-minute 4-3 win over Canada in the semifinals. Japan beat France 2-1 in the other semifinal.
The match was a huge draw in Japan especially after the men's team lost to Mexico in the semifinals.
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