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Revenge is sweet for U.S. in 2-1 Olympic soccer win over Japan

The Americans win their third consecutive gold medal, and fourth overall, with the win before a record crowd at Wembley Stadium.

August 09, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Carli Lloyd (on knees) celebrates with U.S. teammates after scoring the first of her two goals in the victory over Japan on Thursday night in London.
Carli Lloyd (on knees) celebrates with U.S. teammates after scoring the… (Ben Curtis / Associated…)

The U.S. women's soccer team got the payback it was looking for Thursday by beating Japan, 2-1, in the Olympic gold-medal game before a crowd of 80,203 at Wembley Stadium.

The attendance was an Olympic record as well as the largest crowd ever to see a women's game in Britain. The U.S. last played before a crowd that big in the 1999 World Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

For the Americans, the loss avenged a painful decision in last summer's World Cup final, when the Japanese twice rallied from deficits to win the title on penalty kicks.

PHOTOS: 2012 London Olympics | Day 13

Carli Lloyd, a largely unsung midfielder on a team of stars, made sure that wouldn't happen this time, scoring goals in each half.

Lloyd's first goal, in the eighth minute, came on a diving header after Alex Morgan, trapped along the end line, flipped a left-footed pass into the six-yard box for Abby Wambach. But Lloyd ducked in front of Wambach, got her head on the ball and drove it into the net.

Then nine minutes into the second half she gathered the ball at midfield and dribbled more than 30 yards down the center of the pitch before pulling up and driving a shot just inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area.

She just missed a hat trick in the 82nd minute when her 20-yard shot bent just beyond the far post and over the crossbar.

Japan's score came early in the second half at the end of a wild sequence that had defender Christie Rampone making her second clutch save of the game only to have the ball bound out to the edge of the six-yard box. Kelley O'Hara tried to clear it but Japan's Yuki Ogimi took the ball off her foot and, with U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo lying on the ground, had an easy shot on goal.

But Solo more than made up for that in the 83rd minute with a spectacular save on Asuna Tanaka after a sloppy clearance let Tanaka come in on the keeper all alone. Solo stood her ground, though, and refused to be deked into moving, then batted down Tanaka's shot from range.

Rampone and Solo -- who played her best game of the tournament -- helped frustrate the Japanese with two other splendid saves in quick succession early in the first half. Rampone, at 37 the oldest player in the game, got her boot on a shot from Japan's Nahomi Kawasumi that was headed for an open net. Seconds later Solo made a leaping left-handed save on an Ogimi header, deflecting it off the crossbar. Defender Rachel Buehler then cleared the stray ball from the front of the net.

The U.S. might also have gotten some help from German referee Bibiana Steinhaus, who appeared to miss a handball call on Tobin Heath when Aya Miyama's indirect free kick looked to have struck Heath's arm in the penalty area midway through the opening half.

Solo stopped Ogimi again in the 33rd minute with a nearly identical one-handed save. Then in the opening seconds of the second half Solo fisted away another free kick from Miyama just as defender Saki Kumagai dove in from the right side to attempt a header.

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