• Kyodo

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Japan reached the semifinals of the Olympic women’s soccer competition for the first time on Friday after a comfortable 2-0 defeat of host China at the Beijing Games.

Goals from Homare Sawa and Yuki Nagasato silenced a fiercely partisan crowd at Qinhuangdao Olympic Center Stadium and set Japan up with a meeting with bogey team the United States in the last four.

Natasha Kai scored an extra-time winner to give the Americans a 2-1 victory over Canada in a weather-interrupted quarterfinal in Shanghai.

Japan has never beaten the United States in 20 meetings between the two teams and is hungry to avenge both their 2-1 quarterfinal defeat in Athens and a 1-0 loss last Saturday here in Group G.

Japan made an indifferent start to the competition but finally hit its stride with a 5-1 demolition of Norway on Tuesday to sneak into the quarterfinals.

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