Japan won the women's World Cup for the first time when they upset the United States 3-1 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time on July 17.
Japan was in need of a good news story after the tsunami disaster which rocked the country in March and their female soccer players supplied it despite being dominated for long spells in the final.
They slipped behind once in normal time and then again in extra time but hit back out of the blue on both occasions before prevailing in the shootout as the U.S. top-ranked team lost all their confidence, sending a series of poor efforts at goal.
Japan's winning spotkick sparked wild celebrations in front of the sell-out crowd of 48,837 in Frankfurt.
It was the first time in 25 matches that Japan had beaten the United States, who had won the World Cup title in 1991 and 1999.
Japan, reduced to 10 when Azusa Iwashimizu was dismissed just before extra time ended, leveled on 117 minutes through Homare Sawa after Abby Wambach's cool header in the 104th minute looked to have given the U.S. victory.
In normal time, Aya Miyama of Japan equalized in the 81st minute when she tapped in a loose ball after woeful U.S. defending.Alex Morgan had stylishly opened the scoring for the Americans in the 69th minute when she lashed home having run onto a long ball.