KOBE, Japan, April 5 (Reuters) - World Cup holders Japan thrashed Brazil 4-1 on Thursday to capture the three-team Kirin Cup and deliver a blow to women’s Olympic champions the United States in the runup to the London Games.
Yurika Sugasawa’s clinical near-post flick in the 89th minute gave hosts Japan the title on goals scored after a 1-1 opening draw with the Americans, who beat Brazil 3-0.
Brazil captain Daiane headed an own goal to give Japan an early advantage in the 16th minute in windy Kobe.
The South Americans equalised on the stroke of halftime when midfielder Francielle curled in a superb free kick.
But Japan regained the lead through Yuko Nagasato’s header 13 minutes into the second half, before captain Aya Miyama fired a third moments later as the home side took control.
Sugasawa darted in front of her marker to meet a superb cross from right-back Yukari Kinga to add the late fourth and sting the world number one Americans once again.
Japan’s women stunned the United States on penalties in the World Cup final in Frankfurt last July to become the first Asian side to win a world title.
Their astonishing World Cup victory gave a traumatised nation a psychological boost after last year’s deadly tsunami, which triggered a nuclear crisis north of Tokyo.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by John Mehaffey Double-click on the newslinks: for more soccer stories