Friday, August 10, 2012

Congratulations Team USA - Women's 2012 Olympic Football Champions

A crowd of 80,203, setting a new Olympic record for women's football saw the United States beat Japan 2-1 in an entertaining and dramatic Women's Olympic Football final, at Wembley a few hours ago. This was a re-match of last summer's Women's World Cup final, when Japan beat the USA on penalty kicks.

An eighth minute goal by midfielder Carli Lloyd following good work by Alex Morgan gave the USA an early lead. Her sublime cross on the turn was headed home by the onrushing Lloyd six yards out, but it was Japan who dominated possession and had the better scoring chances in the first half.

Lloyd is mobbed by her US team-mates after scoring the opening goal in the Olympic final 

Christie Rampone had to make a clearance off the line from a shot by Nahomi Kawasumi in the 17th minute. Then in the 18th minute Ogimi missed two chances to draw Japan level. First US goalkeeper Hope Solo showed magnificent agility to tip the Japan striker's header onto the crossbar. The ball fell to Rachel Buehler, but her poor attempted clearance went straight back to Ogimi, but sadly she could only manage to blast her follow up shot from close range high and wide.

Hope Solo keeps Japan at bay with this outstanding save from Ogimi's header

In the 25th minute, Japan had their first of two clear cut penalty shouts turned down. Tobin Heath stuck out her arm and clearly handled the ball following a free kick, but no penalty was awarded.

The Americans' nearly went two up in the 28th minute, courtesy of a near-own goal by Azusa Iwashimizu. A deep cross to the back post was about to be met by Alex Morgan, but Iwashimizu's headed interception saw the ball bounce off her own post and away with Fukumoto stranded.

Then in the 33rd minute Aya Miyama's rasping drive from 12 yards cannoned off the crossbar to safety, and Shinobu Ohno curling right-footed shot from the edge of the box five minutes later beat Solo and the upright by a whisker.

At the break the USA still held a slender one goal advantage.

Early in the second half, an even more obvious penalty offence was committed by the US defender Rachel Buehler, who 'rugby tackled' Saki Kumagai to the ground. Incredibly, no penalty again was given by German referee Steinhaus Bibiana.

Nine minutes into the second half the USA doubled their lead, Lloyd getting her second goal of the night and what a goal it was! She dribbled her way through a number of defenders and towards the edge of the penalty area, before hitting a rocket of a shot across the face of goal and into the far corner of the net, giving Fukumoto in the Japan goal no chance. A contender for goal of the tournament!

Yuki Ogimi deservedly pulled a goal back for Japan in the 63rd minute. Following a goalmouth scramble, Ogimi was on hand to poke home and cut the United States lead to set up a tense final quarter of the match.

Japan did have one last great opportunity to equalise in the 83rd minute, but unlike their other chances, it came as the product of a gift and not their spectacular build-up play.

Rampone, who had been excellent all evening committed a horrendous mistake on the edge of her own penalty box, giving the ball away and allowing substitute Asuna Tanaka to get through on goal. She attempted to curl a shot around Solo, but the US goalkeeper made a spectacular two handed diving save to her left to preserve the lead.

That would be the last great chance that Japan would produce in the match. Japan played excellent football throughout the Olympic final, but Solo's heroics, Lloyds clinical finishing and a large slice luck kept the United States from conceding more than once.

For the fourth time, the United States women's football team are gold medallists at the Olympics.

Match highlights from Wembley as USA beat Japan in the Women's Olympic Football final

USA: Solo, Rampone(capt) (Cheyney '57), Buehler (Sauerbrunn '80), O'Hara, Le Peilbet, Boxx, Lloyd, Morgan, Wambach, Rampinoe, Heath.

Japan: Fukumoto, Kinga, Iwashimizu, Kumagai, Sameshima (Iwabuchi '77), Sakaguchi (Tanaka '59), Miyama (capt), Sawa, Kawasumi, Ohno (Maruyama '86), Ogimi.

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