It’s tough to sift through 122-plus minutes of a match filled with so much action, excitement and intrigue and distill it down to a few details. But here are the five major events from today’s match that shaped the outcome of the game.
Brazil’s Early Miscue
The United States jumped out to an early lead thanks to a flub by Brazil just 74 seconds into the game. Shannon Boxx’s solid cross deflected off sweeper Daiane’s leg and into the goal for a score. The goal jump-started the U.S. effort and led to the strongest first ten minutes that the United States has played all tournament.
Rachel Buehler’s Red Card, Hope Solo’s Save, Marta’s Penalty Kick
It was at this juncture when we knew we weren’t in for just a regular game. In the 65th minute, Marta beat Buehler and Christie Rampone in front of the U.S. goal with a clever flick over the two defenders. As Marta sidestepped the pair to collect her flick, Buehler stuck with her and lunged in unison with the striker, sending Marta crashing to the ground with Buehler below her. According to the referee, Buehler’s challenge was a denial of a goal scoring opportunity and grounds for a penalty kick and a red card. To an untrained eye, the challenge wasn’t anything spectacular, but the fact that it occured so close to the goal, and that it was the world’s best player, most likely went in Brazil’s favor.
Cristiane took the kick, but was stonewalled by Hope Solo, who pushed the shot to the side. But instead of celebrating the save, the Americans were thrown into confusion as the referee awarded a re-kick. Before the kick was taken (we think) Christie Rampone stepped into the 18-yard box, making her guilty of encroachment. Hope Solo was then awarded a yellow card for (we think) dissent. None of this was explained to the U.S. squad, who were enraged by the calls. Marta stepped up and nonchalantly netted the second attempt, evening the score at 1-1.
Marta’s Overtime Goal
Marta asserted her dominance just two minutes into overtime when she volleyed a Maurine cross into the back of the net to give Brazil a 2-1 lead. Her touch was so deliberate and specific, with just enough weight and placement on it to fool Solo and still land inside the goalmouth, that no other player in the world could have made that same touch for a goal. Some blame falls on Shannon Boxx, who was too busy signaling to the assistant referee for an offsides call to keep tabs on Marta, but the striker put up a flawless ball.
Abby Wambach’s Goal
This was the one that shook the world. Already in stoppage time of the second period of overtime, the United States has one last push at goal left in them before they would be eliminated from the tournament. After receiving a ball from Carli Lloyd, substitute Megan Rapinoe took the ball up the wing and launched a cross towards the goal. Waiting on the other end was Abby Wambach who out-jumped an outstretched defender and nodded the ball in the back of the net for the equalizer. It had shades of Landon Donovan’s miracle goal against Algeria and came fittingly on the 12-year anniversary of the 1999 Women’s World Cup championship game. As soon as the ball hit the back of the net, even with penalty kicks still to come, you knew that momentum had permanently swung to the U.S. corner.
Hope Solo’s PK save
After being robbed of a PK save in the second half, Solo was vindicated when she stopped Daiane’s penalty, giving the U.S. a 3-2 lead. As Daiane shot, Solo dove to her right, deflecting the shot and landing on her right shoulder, which still hadn’t healed from surgery. Solo was celebrating before she hit the ground, knowing that she’d given the U.S an insurmountable lead, and subsequently, a spot in the semifinals. Full penalty kick highlights.