London, England – Japan survived a frantic finish at Wembley on Monday, edging France 2-1 despite some late pressure to advance to the final of the women's Olympic soccer tournament.
A pair of set pieces helped the Japanese undo the French as Yuki Ogmi and Mizuho Sakaguchi provided the finishing touches on either side of halftime.
Eugenie Le Sommer earned France a consolation goal in the 76th minute as the European nation failed to pull level in the final 14 minutes.
The reigning world champions advance to Thursday's final at Wembley where it will face the United States for the gold medal, a rematch of the 2011 Women's World Cup final.
Japan went in front in the 32nd minute when a lengthy free kick played into the box was not properly dealt with by Sarah Bouhaddi. The French goalkeeper got her hands to the delivery but was unable to keep hold of it as Ogmi stuffed the ensuing loose ball into the empty net.
It didn't take Japan long to double the advantage into the second half. France was left to rue some more poor defensive play on set pieces as Sakaguchi was first to meet a free kick delivery in the 49th minute. She guided her header into the far lower corner to put Japan firmly in the driver's seat.
France continued to battle and eventually pulled back a goal for its efforts. Elodie Thomis latched on to a through ball on the right side of the box and played a centering pass in front of goal where Le Sommer was arriving to smash it home on the half-volley.
Elise Bussaglia squandered a golden opportunity to level the score for France moments later as she failed to convert from the penalty spot, missing the target despite sending Miho Fukumoto the wrong way.
Shortly after, Thomis spurned a sitter as she failed to turn in a loose ball from close range. Japanese goalkeeper Fukumoto was quick to recover as she pounced on the scuffed shot.
Ogmi nearly put the result beyond any doubt late one when she found herself one-on-one with Bouhaddi only to be denied by the outside of the post.
France applied a great deal of late pressure but ultimately came up short as it will settle for a chance to play for the bronze medal on Thursday.