photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
A dream tournament ended with a dream result for the U.S. women's national team.
A year after losing to Japan in the World Cup final, the United States exacted revenge en route to claiming the gold medal in the Olympic final by defeating the Japanese, 2-1, at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on Thursday. Carli Lloyd led the way with goals on each side of halftime and goalkeeper Hope Solo made a handful of fine saves to prevent Japan from rallying in a back-and-forth tournament finale.
Lloyd netted early in each half before Yuki Ogimi buried a chance from close range to pull Japan within a goal with nearly half-an-hour of play left. But the United States put the game away, with Solo leading the charge with a key performance.
The win did not only see Pia Sundhage's team avenge their stinging penalty kick loss from last summer, but it also marked a perfect tournament for the Americans. The U.S. team finished the Olympics perfect at 6-0 with 16 goals scored and only six surrendered.
The United States got off to a flying start in the match, as Lloyd headed home the opener in the eighth minute. Alex Morgan got on the end of a pass inside the penalty area and she delivered a no-look cross to the center, where a streaking Lloyd met the ball and placed it into the back of the net.
Japan settled after that and took more control of possession in an open first half that saw both teams get denied by the posts. But the Japanese, which looked the more dangerous side when halftime rolled around, allowed Lloyd to score again nine minutes after the intermission.
After a nice sequence of passes, Lloyd received the ball and made a diagonal run to the right. She then rifled a cross-body shot that beat outstretched Japan goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto and snuck inside the far post in the 54th minute to double the Americans' advantage.
The Japanese would make things interesting, however. Ogimi put away a low cross in the 63rd minute after some poor defending by the U.S. team. But the desperate Japan side never found an equalizer thanks to the veteran Solo, who thwarted away a number of fine chances from Japan to help the United States get redemption and the gold medals.
What do you think of the United States winning the gold medal by beating Japan? Who impressed you the most? Has this tournament given you a new-found respect for the USWNT?
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