LONDON -- Carli Lloyd's diving header in the eighth minute gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead over Japan at halftime of the gold medal game of the women's Olympic soccer tournament Thursday at Wembley Stadium.
The goal came after Alex Morgan, trapped on the goal line, flipped a left-footed pass into the six-yard box for Abby Wambach. But Lloyd ducked in front of it, got her head on it, and drove it into the net.
Eight minutes later, captain Christie Rampone and keeper Hope Solo saved the U.S. twice in quick succession. Rampone, at 37, the oldest player in the game, stood on the goal line and stopped a shot from Japan's Nahomi Kawasumi that had already gotten by Solo. Then seconds later Solo made a spectacular leaping left-handed save on Yuki Ogimi's header, deflecting it off the crossbar.
Solo stopped Ogimi again in the 33rd minute with a nearly identical one-handed save.
All that was bad news for the U.S. defense, which had trouble controlling Ogimi and forward Shinobu Ohno -- who narrowly missed wide right in the 38th minute -- as well as playmaking midfielder Nahomi Kawasumi. All three seemed able to penetrate the Americans' back line at will. But they just couldn't finish.