LONDON: Japan edged closer to their dream of a rare footballing double Monday after holding off a late onslaught from France to reach the final of the Olympic women's football tournament.
Japan, bidding to become only the second side in history to hold the World Cup and Olympic crowns at the same time, advanced to a final showdown with either the United States or Canada after a 2-1 victory.
Goals in each half from Yuki Ogimi and Mizuho Sakaguchi appeared to have left the Japanese cruising into Thursday's final.
However France staged a desperate late fightback to run the Japanese close, with Eugenie le Sommer pulling a goal back to make it 2-1 on 76 minutes.
France then appeared poised to equalise after Le Sommer was bundled over in the penalty area by Sakaguchi to earn a penalty.
But the pressure was too much for France's Elise Bussaglia, who blasted her spot-kick well wide as a golden chance to level went begging.
Japan could have extended their lead in the dying seconds when Ogimi broke free to go one-on-one with the France goalkeeper only for her shot to hit the woodwork.