Substitute midfielder Fatmire Bajramaj scored a pair of second-half goals Thursday to help world champion Germany beat Japan 2-0 and win its third straight bronze in Olympic women's soccer.
Bajramaj opened the scoring off a rebound in the 69th minute, firing a left-footer into the top of the net after Japan goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto partially stopped a header by midfielder Kerstin Garefrekes. Bajramaj, who entered the match in the 59th, added her second goal with a low right-footer from close range in the 87th.
Germany, which won the last two World Cups, had already won the bronze at the 2004 Athens Games and the 2000 Sydney Games.
The fourth-place finish marked Japan's best performance in women's soccer in the Olympics. It was coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Athens.
Japan started the match controlling possession and creating some of the most dangerous scoring chances. But Germany picked up the pace and put some pressure on Japan before finally getting on the board with Bajramaj's goal.
The midfielder, who came off the bench to replace Melanie Behringer, squeezed her shot into a small opening as Fukumoto charged from the goal. Bajramaj added her second goal after clearing a defender inside the area and firing a low shot past the diving Fukumoto.
Striker Shinobu Ohno came close to opening the scoring with a right-footer from the top of the area that just missed over the crossbar in the 14th, and Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer needed two great saves after consecutive shots by midfielder Aya Miyama and defender Yukari Kinga in the 21st.
Birgit Prinz, the only player to score in four Olympics, came close with a header in the 44th, and Japan's Homare Sawa forced Angerer to make another good save with a cross shot in the 52nd.
Germany arrived as one of the top title contenders along with the United States and Brazil. It started with a draw against the Brazilians in a rematch of last year's World Cup final, then picked up two straight 1-0 wins against Nigeria and North Korea to advance in second place in its group.
It edged Sweden 2-0 in extra time in the quarterfinals before losing 4-1 to Brazil in the semis. The loss to the Brazilians snapped the team's streak of 10 matches without allowing a goal in major tournaments.
Germany did not advance past the group stage in the Atlanta Games, when women's soccer debuted.
Japan, in its third Olympics, fell to the U.S. in the semifinals, losing 4-2 after relinquishing an early 1-0 lead. Japan was the third-place finisher in its group, advancing behind Norway and the United States.