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Women's World Cup history

From the United States' inaugural title win in 1991 to its 2015 victory over Japan, get a complete look at the history of the Women's World Cup.

1991 Women's World Cup

Host: China PRWinner: USARunner-up: NorwayThird: SwedenIn the first
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Tommy Cheng

Host: China PR
Winner: USA
Runner-up: Norway
Third: Sweden
In the first Women's World Cup, brought to life by then-FIFA President Dr. Joao Havelange, the United States took the world by storm in the November tournament. Their dominant forward line of Michelle Akers, Carin Jennings and April Heinrichs -- dubbed the Triple-Edged Sword by the Chinese media -- tore through the 12-team tournament to win the inaugural Cup. The U.S., coached by Anson Dorrance, came out of Group B after defeating Sweden, Brazil and Japan by a cumulative score of 11-2. Akers scored five goals in the quarterfinals as the U.S. dominated Chinese Taipai, 7-0. In the semifinals, it was Jennings hat trick that helped the U.S. beat Germany, 5-2. The only struggle for the U.S. came in the final against Normay. The match was tied at 1 late, but Akers once again came through. With three minutes left, she jumped on an errant pass that pulled Norway goaltender Reidun Seth out of the net and touched it past her for the game-winning goal.

1995 Women's World Cup

Host: SwedenWinner: NorwayRunner-up: GermanyThird: USAAfter a heartbreaking finish
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Host: Sweden
Winner: Norway
Runner-up: Germany
Third: USA
After a heartbreaking finish four years earlier, Norway bounced back to win the second Women's World Cup. The pressure was on in 1995 as teams were playing for not just the World Cup title but also a chance to play in the Olympics for the first time. The U.S., coached by Tony DiCicco, was favored to repeat, but Michelle Akers, who scored 10 goals in the previous World Cup, suffered an injury just seven minutes into their first match. Norway, out of Group B, dominated Nigeria, England and Canada with a 17-0 goal differential. Norway took down Denmark, 3-1, in the quarterfinals to set up a rematch against the United States. In a defensive semifinal game, Ann Kristin Aarones pushed across the lone goal of the game as Norway won. Norway then beat Germany, 2-0, in a rainy final.

1999 Women's World Cup

Host: USAWinner: USARunner-up: China PRThird: BrazilThe 1999 World
Photo Credit: AP / Michael Caulfield

Host: USA
Winner: USA
Runner-up: China PR
Third: Brazil
The 1999 World Cup was bigger than ever as it expanded from 12 to 16 teams. The tournament reached record figures across the board, with more than 660,000 spectators and nearly 2,500 media members taking in all 32 games, which were broadcast live on national television in the U.S. to about 40 million viewers. The American hosts were coming off winning the first gold medal in women's soccer in the 1996 Olympics, which the U.S also hosted. The U.S., coached by Tony DiCicco, cruised through Group A with 13 goals and three wins against Nigeria, Korea DPR and Denmark. Things got a little more challenging for the hosts in the Round of 16. The U.S. fought for a 3-2 comeback win over Germany in the quarterfinals then defeated Brazil, 2-0, in the semifinals. Both Germany and Brazil had come out of Group B, which was labeled the Group of Death. In an ever-dramatic final, neither the U.S. nor China could edge out a goal in regulation or 30 minutes of extra time, leading to penalty kicks. With the PKs even at 4-4 after U.S. goalie Briana Scurry stopped Chinas Liu Ying, Brandi Chastain had an opportunity to give the Americans their second World Cup title in three opportunities. And that she did. Chastain blasted the ball past Chinese goalkeeper Gao Hong, fell to her knees and whipped off her jersey in celebration, instantly becoming one of the most iconic moments in U.S. sports.

2003 Women's World Cup

Host: USAWinner: GermanyRunner-up: SwedenThird: USAThe World Cup was
Photo Credit: AP / Chris Carlson

Host: USA
Winner: Germany
Runner-up: Sweden
Third: USA
The World Cup was supposed to move back to China in 2003, but because of concerns over the SARS outbreak in April and May, FIFA decided to relocate the event in order to keep on schedule for the September tournament. Instead, the United States ended up hosting the tournament for a second straight time. April Heinrichs, who was part of the 1991 U.S. World Cup team, took over as head coach in 2000 and made her first World Cup appearance on the sideline. The U.S. again swept its way through group play, topping Sweden, Korea DPR and Nigeria in Group A. In the quarterfinals, Abby Wambach scored the lone goal as the U.S. beat Norway. In the semifinals, the U.S. drew Germany, who had defeated Russia, 7-1, in the quarterfinals. Germany got on the board early with a goal from Kerstin Garefrekes in the 15th minute and added insurance with two goals in extra time from Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz to knock off the defending champions, 3-0. In the other semifinal game, Sweden came from behind to beat Canada, 2-1, with goals from Malin Mostrom and Josefine Oqvist to reach its first World Cup final. Sweden struck first in the final with a goal from Hanna Ljungberg in the 41st minute, but it didnt keep the lead for long. Meinert scored her fourth goal of the tournament to even the score at 1-1. The score remained tied through regulation before Germany's Nia Kuenzer ended it with a goal in the 98th minute, giving Germany its first World Cup title.

2007 Women's World Cup

Host: ChinaWinner: GermanyRunner-up: BrazilThird: USADefending champion Germany did
Photo Credit: AP / Saurabh Das

Host: China
Winner: Germany
Runner-up: Brazil
Third: USA
Defending champion Germany did the unthinkable in 2007. In six games, it didn't allow a single goal en route to becoming the first team in history to win back-to-back Women's World Cups. Germany kicked off the tournament with an 11-0 win over Argentina only to play England to a 0-0 draw in its second game before finishing group play with a 2-0 win over Japan. Germany beat Korea DPR and Norway in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, with a pair of 3-0 wins. The U.S., led by coach Greg Ryan, won Group B with a 2-1-0 record and beat England, 3-0, in the quarterfinals before falling to high-powered Brazil, 4-0. Brazil entered the final against defensive powerhouse Germany with 17 goals scored second behind only Germany. Brazil had its opportunities in the final as the tournaments leading scorer Marta was stopped by Germany goalie Nadine Angerer on a penalty shot that would've evened the score at 1. Instead, Birgit Prinz and Simone Laudehr notched the only goals as Germany won.

2011 Women's World Cup

Host: GermanyWinner: JapanRunner-up: USAThird: SwedenJapan had just been
Photo Credit: AP / Michael Sohn

Host: Germany
Winner: Japan
Runner-up: USA
Third: Sweden
Japan had just been shaken by a devastating tsunami and earthquake months earlier, so it was fitting that its women's soccer team walked away as World Cup champions. Japan made it out of group play as the No. 2 team in Group B with a 2-0-1 record behind England at 2-1-0. Japan beat two-time defending champion and host Germany, 1-0, to advance to the semifinals for the first time. Japans Karina Maruyama, who entered the game as a substitute, scored the clincher in the 108th minute to give Germany its first World Cup loss since the 1999 quarterfinals. Three of the four quarterfinal games went to extra time with France and the U.S. advancing on penalty kicks. In the semifinals, Japan quickly fell behind to Sweden on a Josefine Oqvist goal in the 10th minute. Japan didn't trail for long, though, as Nahomi Kawasumi scored in the 19th minute to even the score at 1-1. Homare Sawa scored the go-ahead goal for Japan in the 60th minute and Kawasumi added an insurance goal in the 64th minute, eventually leading to a 3-1 win that sent Japan to its first final. In the other semifinal game, the U.S., led by coach Pia Sundhage, struck first against France on an early goal from Lauren Cheney. The U.S. led 1-0 until the 55th minute when Sonia Bompastor tied it at 1. Abby Wambach broke the tie in the 79th minute and Alex Morgan iced it for the U.S. three mintues later, putting the U.S. in the final for the first time since 1999. The final was an absolute battle. The game was scoreless entering the second half, but Morgan changed that in the 69th minute. Japan responded with a goal from Aya Miyama in the 81st minute, and the score stayed tied at 1 as regulation came to an end. In extra time, Wambach again gave the U.S. the lead in the 104th minute, but Japan once again responded. Sawa, who won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot, tied it again in the 117th minute to force penalty kicks. Japan took a quick lead on PKs as Miyama converted on U.S. goalie Hope Solo after Shannon Boxx was denied. The next three shooters were also denied before Mizuho Sakaguchi put another one past Solo. Wambach gave the U.S. a chance, cutting Japans PK lead to 2-1 with a goal on Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori. It all came down to Saki Kumagai vs. Solo. Kumagai beat the Golden Glove winner with a shot to the top left corner of the net, knocking off the No. 1 ranked team and giving Japan its first World Cup title.

2015 Women's World Cup

Host: Canada Winner: USA Runner-up: Japan Third: England
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Franck Fife

Host: Canada
Winner: USA
Runner-up: Japan
Third: England
The United States became the first team to win three Women's World Cup titles with a 5-2 win over Japan in the final. It was a rematch from the 2011 final, when the U.S. lost on penalty kicks. Carli Lloyd got the scoring off for the U.S. with a goal in the third minute. She recorded a hat trick with all three of her goals coming in the first 16 minutes. The U.S. made it to the final through Group D, dubbed the "Group of Death." They opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Australia, then played Sweden to a scoreless draw before beating Nigeria, 1-0, to win the group. Lloyd led the way for the U.S. throughout the knockout stage. She scored six goals in the final four games, including game-winners against China in the quarterfinal and Germany in the semifinal. The U.S. hadn't won the Women's World Cup since 1999.


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