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Algarve Cup Day Three: Japan, Germany book tickets to final

Wednesday’s first place match at the 2012 Algarve Cup will pit current world champion Japan against an inspired Germany team after the two sides took care of business in two high profile matches on Monday.

Japan defeated the United States 1-0 to claim a second-straight victory over the U.S. following last summer’s World Cup final, when the Nadeshiko defeated the Americans on penalty kicks. Although the implications were far less severe this time, Monday’s match had a similar tone: Plenty of chances for the Americans, with nothing to show for them and Japan capitalizing on the other end.

Megumi Takase sent an emphatic header into the back of the net off of service from newly crowned captain Aya Miyama in the 84th minute for the game-winner, which came just minutes after a flurry of chances for the United States. Those opportunities included a 62nd minute no-call when Alex Morgan collided with Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto in the penalty area. One minute later, Megan Rapinoe fired a low shot on goal but Fukumoto was up to the task.

The loss means the Americans fall-short of a 10th-straight Algarve Cup final, but they will face a familiar (and powerful) foe in Sweden in Wednesday’s third place match.

The U.S. gets another shot at Japan on April 1 in Sendai, Japan as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup. The match kicks off at 6:30 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

Meanwhile, much like the U.S. had a second chance on Monday, Germany gets another crack at Japan, which upset the 2011 World Cup hosts in the quarterfinals 1-0 in extra time in the biggest upset in Women’s World Cup history.

Germany dismantled Sweden 4-0 on Monday. Celia Okoyino da Mbabi registered a hat trick and young Alexandra Popp added a fourth goal for Germany, which made a significant statement with the win. The Germans will not have the luxury of showcasing their talents on the Olympic stage this summer due to that World Cup loss to Japan last year. Surely, they will have that on their minds on Wednesday.

Other results: Denmark 1-0 Norway; Iceland 1-0 China; Wales 2-1 Hungary; Portugal 2-1 Ireland.

Those results set-up the following for Wednesday:

Championship: Japan vs. Germany

3rd place match: U.S. vs. Sweden

5th place match: Iceland vs. Denmark

7th place match: Wales vs. Norway

9th place match: Portugal vs. China

11th place match: Ireland vs. Hungary

Here are the USA-Japan highlights from U.S. Soccer:

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