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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Women's World Cup: USA Beats Brazil on Penalties

USA 2 - Brazil 2 (USA wins on penalties, 5-3)

USA: Brazil own goal (Diane -- 2nd minute)
Brazil: Marta (penalty -- 68th minute)
Brazil: Marta (93rd minute)
USA: Abby Wambach (122nd minute)

USA beat Brazil on penalty kicks in the Quarterfinals of the World Cup in a remarkable game in which the USA took an early lead, went down to two Marta goals and equalized from a stunning, injury time goal by Abby Wambach that sent the match to penalty kicks. The USA put Brazil on the defensive through a second minute opening goal in which Brazil defender Diane put the ball into her own net after Shannon Box crossed from the left flank in search of Abby Wambach. Brazil struggled to find their rhythm after the shock of the opening goal but began to impose its authority on the game after 30 minutes of play. The Brazilians finally got the break they deserved in the 68th minute after a remarkable, solo play by Marta resulted in a penalty kick and red card for Rachel Buehler for a foul on Marta in the box. Hope Solo saved Brazil striker Christiane's penalty but the referee judged the USA goalkeeper to have moved off her line before the kick was taken and consequently allowed a retake of the penalty. This time, Marta stepped up to the penalty spot and made no mistake by sending the ball low to Hope Solo’s left.

Brazil continued to dominate possession for the remainder of regular time and re-opened the scoring just minutes into the first half of injury time with a brilliant Marta strike from her left foot that illustrated her game changing ability and designation as FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year for five consecutive years. But the Americans refused to give up and their legendary fitness emerged as a key factor in extra time as they poured players forward in search of the tying goal that would take them through to penalties. With just seconds left on the clock, Megan Rapinoe delivered a curling cross from the left flank to Abby Wambach, who refused to be distracted by Brazilian defenders and headed the ball into the roof of the net for a stunning injury time equalizer in the 122nd minute. In the subsequent penalty kick shoot-out, Hope Solo saved Brazil’s third kick from Diane while all of the USA penalty takers converted. USA's Ali Krieger scored the final kick to clinch a miraculous comeback for the Americans after appearing doomed to World Cup elimination by two goals from Marta, the world’s best player.

The match showcased the comeback and the fight of the U.S. team, their exemplary fitness, Marta's individual skill and a string of poor officiating. While Rachel Buehler's foul on Marta resulted in a deserved red card, Hope Solo's movement off the line was ever so subtle if present at all and did not merit a retake of the penalty. Team USA pressed forward after they lost Rachel Buehler and controlled much of the game despite being a woman down, due in no small part to their fitness and never say die attitude. On Brazil's side, Kleiton Lima's team failed to put the match away despite their one person advantage and lead.


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