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US beats Brazil 1-0 for gold in women's soccer

US beats Brazil 1-0 for gold in women's soccer

The United States defeated Brazil 1-0 to win its third Olympic gold medal in women's football, and all it took was one clutch shot from midfielder Carli Lloyd.
Outplayed for most of Thursday's final, Lloyd scored in the sixth minute of extra time to stun the hard-luck Brazilians.
Amy Rodriguez won a loose ball and found Lloyd to her left. The midfielder touched the ball once, and then drove a left-footed shot from just outside the 18-yard line that bounced and then skidded to the left of diving goalkeeper Barbara.
"I just knew that I had to keep it low, strike it hard and it went it," said Lloyd, who had one of few threatening U.S. shots in the game. "It was an unbelievable feeling."
Four years ago in Athens, Brazil also outplayed the U.S. for most of the gold medal game but lost 2-1 in extra time. It was fourth Olympic final for the U.S. in women's football, its only loss coming against Norway in 2000.
"Everyone was surprised we were in the quarterfinals and everyone was surprised we were in the semifinals, and now everyone is surprised we won this," defender Kate Markgraf said. "Brazil is a fantastic team and they have many great individuals, but they didn't put away their chances tonight. We had one."
American goalkeeper Hope Solo kept the United States in the game for the first 85 minutes, making at least a half-dozen key saves. In the 72nd, Solo threw up her right arm to stop a close-range shot from striker Marta that seemed certain to be a goal.
Solo also punched Marta's corner away in the final minutes of extra time.
In the earlier game, substitute midfielder Fatmire Bajramaj scored a pair of second-half goals to help world champion Germany beat Japan 2-0 and win its third straight Olympic bronze in women's football.
Brazil pressed after the goal, but had few clear shots on Solo with U.S. defenders foiling corners and shots from open play. In the 27th minute of extra time, Lloyd hit the far post to cap the Americans' late surge.
Brazil seems jinxed in big games. In addition to the Olympic final loss four years ago, the South Americans also lost 2-0 to Germany in the World Cup final a year ago.
It was redemption for Solo. In the World Cup semifinals last year against Brazil, she was benched by then-coach Greg Ryan, who went with the veteran Briana Scurry.
The U.S. was battered 4-0. Solo openly criticized Ryan afterward and was kicked off the team. Ryan left the team about a month later, replaced by Pia Sundhage of Sweden.
"It was hell. I went through hell," Solo said. "A lot of people did. But I feel stronger in the end. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm glad I went though it. I learned a lot about myself."
Added defender Kate Markgraf: "This is such a reward for nine months of hard, hard work and soul-searching after the World Cup."
Both teams were unimpressive in the first 20 minutes Thursday, chasing loose balls on a wet, cutup field soaked by rain that stopped just minutes before the start.
Early possession was a problem, but the Americans struggled more in the face of a Chinese crowd of 51,612 at Workers' Stadium supporting Brazil and chanting "Jia you Brazil" (Let's go Brazil).
Then Marta started to dazzle, catching the attention of celebrities in the crowd that included Pele, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and IOC president Jacques Rogge.
Brazil had the game's first scoring chance in the 31st minute. Lloyd gave the ball away in midfield and Formica sent a through-ball to Cristiane, who was stopped by Solo coming out 10 meters (yards) to make a sprawling save.
Three minutes later, Marta tantalized the fans with some swiveling step-over moves before slipping past defenders Kate Markgraf and Christie Rampone, but shooting just wide of the near post.
"I have no idea why we can't win a final," said Marta, who sobbed when she got her silver medal, her lip quivering. "It's something I'm gonna keep asking myself for a long time. You keep asking what you did wrong.
"I'm more mad than sad. Again we had a chance to win the gold and again we let it slip away. It's hard to say why that keeps happening to us."


Updated : 2021-05-06 19:42 GMT+08:00