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US women win football gold for the third time

Latest update : 2008-08-21

The gold medal in women's football was won for the third time in four Olympics by the United States. The "soccer" team defeated Brazil with a late extra-time goal.

 

Defending champions United States produced an extra-time winner to claim Olympic gold after a 1-0 win over Brazil in the women's football tournament here on Thursday.

The Americans replicated their extra-time triumph over the Brazilians in the Athens Olympics final four years ago to deny the South Americans yet again.

It was a courageous effort by the United States, who for long periods absorbed tremendous pressure from the Brazilians, spearheaded by their lethal strike pair of Marta and Cristiane to win it in the first period of extra time.

Midfielder Carli Lloyd proved America's hero with a rasping angled drive that eluded the despairing dive of Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara in the 96th minute.

"It was hard and this win wasn't just down to my goal," Lloyd said. "It's the greatest feeling. It's my first Olympics and my first Olympic gold medal."

Winning coach Pia Sundhage said: "The more minutes together, the better we played and I've been working for nine months now with this team and it was about finding the rhythm and in the way we believed in attack."

The two great rivals produced a classic encounter, full of fierce physical contests and high levels of skill thrilling the capacity crowd at the Workers Stadium.

The Brazilians took their defeat hard and there were plenty of tears on the podium at the medals ceremony.

"We struggled to the very end," star player Marta said. "It is a hard moment, I don't know what to say.

"It was not a lack of opportunities, but rather it was a lack of patience. On the one shot the USA had, they scored, and whoever scores the goal wins. We lost focus after the Americans scored."

The Americans are rebuilding after a fractious campaign at last year's World Cup in China where they were taken apart by Brazil 4-0 in the semi-finals and finished with the bronze behind champions Germany.

In a breathless opening 45 minutes, US goalkeeper Hope Solo courageously saved at Cristiane's feet in the 31st minute.

Two-time world player of the year Marta thrilled the capacity crowd with her electrifying running, wriggling her way around two defenders but fired just wide three minutes later.

USA right-back Heather Mitts was yellow carded for bringing down midfielder Formiga in full flight and minutes later it was the dangerous Marta again, this time swinging in a high free kick which Solo did well to hold under pressure.

Nearing halftime Marta again darted clear but her cross to Cristiane was put behind for a corner by defender Lori Chalupny.

Cristiane had enough time before the end of the half to let fly with a rasping volley over the bar.

But the Americans did well to stay in the contest, watched by Brazilian legend Pele sitting alongside FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.

Marta again accelerated around her marker and fired in a cross early in the second half but Solo defused it well in the goalmouth.

Mitts may have been lucky to stay on the field after her heavy challenge from behind on Daniela midway through the half, but the referee ignored Brazil's appeals for her to be red-carded and instead awarded a free kick.

The American defence was under siege for much of the second half as they stuck steadfastly to their task.

Marta again tested the US defence unleashing a fierce volley that Solo somehow kept out with 18 minutes left.

The Americans had two great scoring chances to win it inside the final four minutes before the game went into extra-time.

Angela Hucles brought out a diving save from Barbara and Amy Rodriguez was one-on-one and attempted to chip the goalkeeper, but Barbara leapt high to stop here.

Germany won their third consecutive Olympics bronze medal but made heavy weather of it against Japan with a hard-fought 2-0 victory in the bronze medal playoff.

 

Date created : 2008-08-21

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