Alexa

Even Marta can't stop US winning gold

Even Marta can't stop US winning gold

Brazil has the best women's football team in the world and the best player in Marta. The United States has the gold medal. Again.
For an hour, the Brazilians outplayed the Americans in the Olympic final on Thursday, showing how the game should be played with technique and imagination and charming an audience that clearly wanted them to win.
Once more, they went home the runners-up as Carli Lloyd showed the way to goal in extra time for the U.S. team.
Another silver medal to go with the one they picked up from the 2004 Athens Olympics and the one collected at last year's World Cup in China.
Something wrong here? Don't suggest that to the Americans who almost own this title and have been in all four Olympic finals since the introduction of women's football at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The only one they lost was to Norway eight years ago in Sydney _ in extra time.
It's just that football doesn't always go the way it's supposed to. No matter how well Brazil played for most of the final at Workers' Stadium in Beijing, the workers went home with the biggest prize and the runners-up were still crying when they collected their medals.
It should have been Brazil's day, but not even Marta with all her brilliance and captivating skills could take it away from them.
With Pele watching from the stands and most of the 51,612 fans wearing yellow rain jackets, it was if this was Brazil playing in Rio or Sao Paulo.
After 20 minutes of play that did women's football no favors _ misplaced passes, aimless long balls forward _ Brazil started to play the sort of game that is a delight to watch.
Marta was at the heart of it and, with her speed and ball control, gave the Americans a tough time.
The No. 10 shirt has always been worn by stars who have the talent to take charge of games _ Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldinho, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio are but a few. Now, Marta comes into that bracket.
Midway through the first half, she raced past two Americans to beat them to the ball and then cut inside and beat them again before pulling her shot wide of the near post.
Five minutes later, her expert control took her past two defenders and she then charged between two more down the left before wrapping her left foot round the ball and curling a cross from near the corner flag that almost found a teammate in the middle.
To those who still say women's football doesn't have the speed, power and technique of the men's game, this was the most eloquent reply. And she had plenty of assistance in Cristiane, Daniela and the hardworking Formiga and Ester.
Even central defender Renata Costa got into the act with two elusive dribbles into the area that threatened the American goal, and she broke into a laugh when realizing how far upfield she had gone.
Having withstood all that pressure, the Americans had two chances near the end to snatch victory before extra time.
Brazil goalkeeper Barbara, having spent 86 minutes without a difficult save to make, had to dive low to her right to block a shot from Angela Hucles. Amy Rodriguez tried to lob the goalkeeper when clear of the defense, but it wasn't high enough and Barbara saved again.
Then came the goal that broke Brazilian hearts. Lloyd's left-footed shot from the edge of the area skidded past Barbara and the celebrations began on the U.S. bench.
It was the sort of twist that football saves up for these occasions.
Marta shot over the crossbar after eluding three defenders and looked to the heavens as if asking the football gods why they wouldn't let her score.
When she lobbed a free kick into the area and no one went for it, she waved her arms in frustration.
At the end, with Barbara lying on her back and sobbing, Cristiane wiping away the tears and more teammates sitting on the turf wondering how on earth they had lost again, the Americans were dancing around the field with flags waving and receiving the cheers from their fans.
Once more they know the feeling of being Olympic champions.
The Brazilian players, again clutching silver medals, were in tears. Marta included.


Updated : 2021-04-11 10:14 GMT+08:00