Sunday, July 10, 2011

USA Defeats Brazil in Women's World Cup In Penalty Kicks

In what has to be the most amazing finish of any women's soccer game in USA history, the American women were able to defeat Brazil on penalty kicks 5-3.

The game was closely played and highly contentious from the start.  As reported here, the first half was largely back and forth with the United States taking a 1-0 after a Brazilian defender made an own goal on a deflection from a shot by Shannon Boxx.

The United States maintained that lead until they were called for a red card after a questionable penalty call on Rachel Buehler when replays seemed to indicate that both her and Marta were equally going after the ball in the penalty box.

Hope Solo was able to make an amazing save on the penalty shot, but then the referee ruled that one of the American players had crossed into the penalty box before the shot was taken.  The resultant repeated penalty shot by Marta scored and Brazil had tied the game 1-1.

Now down to 10 players after the red card, the Americans played the best they have all tournament, preventing the Brazilians from scoring again in regulation.

When the first 15-minute overtime started, the Brazilians were able to score in the 92nd minute on a nice shot by Marta and suddenly the Americans were trying to play catch-up with only 10 women.

The largely European crowd in the stadium by that time were making it known that they didn't appreciate the way that the Brazilians were conducting themselves on the field and how they had gotten the lead in the game. Chants of "USA USA" were clearly heard over and over.

Despite the fact that they were a man down and scrambling desperately all over the field, the Americans seemed to gain strength as the game went on while the Brazilians seemed to slow down and almost play a purely defensive game in an effort to not blow the lead.

The second overtime started with America needing one goal to tie it all up and send it into penalty kicks, and that's exactly what happened with roughly one minute to go in the game.

Megan Rapinoe brought the ball down the left side and sent a deep crossing shot that sailed over the Brazilian defenders and their goalie onto the head of Abby Wambach who sent the ball home deep in the back of the net.  This set off a raucous celebration by the crowd inside the stadium as the game was then sent into penalty kicks.

The United States, shooting first, was able to sink their first three penalty shots rather easily.  Brazil was able to do the same with their first two kicks, but on their third, American Goalie Hope Solo dove to her right to deflect the ball out of the way.

That left it up to the final two American players to sink their penalty shots.  Megan Rapinoe drilled her shot home, and when Ali Krieger did the same, she was mobbed by her teammates on the field in celebration of their improbable victory.

That was easily the greatest soccer game in American Soccer History (forget in women's; this transcends gender).

Photo: Wambach reacts after scoring game-tying goal in second overtime/Getty Images

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