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U.S. women lead gold medal soccer match, 1-0, at halftime

August 09, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Carli Lloyd (10) scores against Japan as the U.S. takes a 1-0 lead over Japan into halftime in the gold-medal game at the London Olympics.
Carli Lloyd (10) scores against Japan as the U.S. takes a 1-0 lead over Japan… (Andrew Medichini / Associated…)

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.

Japan almost gave the U.S. a second goal in the 28th minute when defender Azusa Iwashimizu, tried to clear a ball back to keeper Miho Fukumoto but missed her completely, banking the ball off the goalpost instead.

Then Lloyd nearly doubled the margin just before halftime, but Fukumoto made a sprawling save of her left-footer from the edge of the penalty area.

The U.S. has won three of the four previous Olympic tournaments for women -- including the last two. But Japan took the big prize from the Americans in last summer's World Cup, twice rallying from deficits before winning the title in penalty kicks.

The U.S. had the best early chance Thursday, with Morgan breaking into the box and getting a left-footed shot on goal in the third minute. But it proved to be an easy save for Fukumoto.

The Japanese, with their precision passing game, may be the more sound team technically. But the U.S. had a substantial advantage in speed and size with Japan starting just two players taller than 5-foot-5 while the Americans started no one shorter than that. And at 5-foot-10, Wambach is three inches taller than the biggest Japanese player, defender Saki Kumagai, one of the players trying to mark her Thursday.

ALSO:

Carli Lloyd gives U.S. 1-0 lead in women's soccer final

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