photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. women's national team needed to come back three separate times against Canada, and ultimately they were the ones that came out victorious in a thrilling match that is already being considered an instant classic.
Alex Morgan netted a dramatic winner seconds before penalty kicks were to take place, heading home a cross to give the United States a 4-3 extra-time victory over northern rivals Canada in the semifinals of the Olympics at Old Trafford on Monday.
Morgan's goal capped a valiant 120-minute performance by the Americans, who on three separate occasions responded to Christine Sinclair goals.
The United States will battle Japan, who picked up a 2-1 win over France in the other semifinals fixture, in the gold medal match at Wembley Stadium on Thursday in a rematch of last summer's World Cup final. Canada will face France at City of Conventry Stadium in the bronze medal match that same day.
The U.S. team may have beaten a tough Canadian side that looked capable of pulling off the upset, but they were on the end of a fortuitous call from the main official late in the second half.
With Canada holding onto a 3-2 lead after Sinclair had scored her third of the match, a free kick was awarded to the Americans due to goalkeeper Erin McLeod holding onto the ball longer than the regulated six seconds. The ensuing free kick by Megan Rapinoe, who scored twice in the match, crashed into a Canadian player's arm and the referee whistled for a penalty kick that Abby Wambach converted in the 80th minute.
That was not the first time the United States found a goal when they were trailing, either. Canada took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when Sinclair punished the Americans and beat goalkeeper Hope Solo with a well-taken shot following a nice passing sequence. But Rapinoe equalized in the 54th minute with an olympic goal, as her corner kick bounced over the goal-line despite Lauren Sesselmann and another Canadian defender having chances to clear it.
Canada did not roll over, however, as they reclaimed the lead for a second time when Sinclair scored in the 67th minute. The Americans once again evened things up through Rapinoe, who bagged her brace and killed the momentum Canada had with a wonder strike from 23 yards out three minutes later.
It did not take long for the Canadians to go ahead for a third time. Sinclair headed a cross off the near post and into the back of the net in the 73rd minute. But Canada once again failed to put Pia Sundhage's team away, giving up a penalty kick to Wambach late in regulation before Morgan's heroics in the final seconds of extra-time.
What do you think of the United States' 4-3 win over Canada? Consider this game an instant classic? Excited to see the gold medal match against Japan?
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