On July 10, the United States advanced to the World Cup semifinal finals with a 5-3 dramatic shootout victory over Brazil despite playing about 60 minutes with only 10 players. The drama filled game, which had its share of great plays and controversial calls, was all-in-all an exciting well played affair.
The United States, who have now defeated Brazil five straight times since being shutout in the 2008 World Cup, got on the board early in the game (1:33 into the contest) when Daiane, a Brazilian fullback, misdirected a Shannon Boxx cross in front of the goal into her own net. The US, which held Brazil without a shot in the first 20 minutes of action, kept up the pressure on the offensive end but couldn’t convert. 36- year old defender Christie Rampone, who did a superb job containing Brazilian star Marta, booted a great free-kick that striker Abby Wambach directed just over the goal with her head. The U.S. followed that near miss with two corners that came up empty. Then at about the 17 minute mark, United States defender Amy LePeilbet, after taking the ball away from a Brazilian midfielder, smoked a shot that tailed left of the goal.
Brazil, which came into the game with a 19-game undefeated streak (19-0-2), finally got into the act offensively in the 20th minute mark as Aline just missed tying the game on a header that goalkeeper Hope Solo missed played. Brazil had another outstanding chance after gaining possession of a USA free kick and pushing the ball up to Marta. Marta, who outran the US defense, however couldn’t convert as Rampone eventually caught up and Solo cut down the angle on Marta. The United States, which had possession of ball 57% of the time in the first half, took a 1-0 lead into halftime. The USA outshot Brazil 2-1 despite Brazil having twice as many scoring chances (6-3). Referee Jacqui Melksham, who would come under fire later in the game, whistled 21 fouls in the first half (Brazil 10, USA 11). Melksham also gave out three yellow cards (two to Brazil and one to the United States).
Brazil, which took control of time of possession in the second half, just seemed content to try to keep the U.S. from getting another goal. The US had an outstanding chance to go up 2-0 in the 64th minute but Carli Lloyd’s header off a free kick sailed over the cross bar. A few moments later, United States Rachel Buehler was called for a ticky-tack foul and shown a red card by Melksham for taking Marta down in the penalty area. Marta, who had the ball in the penalty area, made an amazing pass to herself between two defenders before Buehler nudged her from behind. This is where the controversy really started for Melksham.
Christiane, who scored two goals in this year’s World Cup and 33 goals in her International career, took the penalty shot for Brazil in which Solo, after anticipating where Christiane was shooting for, knocked the ball safely away. However, Melksham ruled that Solo moved off the goal (during a penalty kick a goalkeeper is allowed to move up and down the line as much as she wants) line before the ball was kicked which clearly wasn’t the case. Due to this supposed infraction, Brazil got another opportunity with Marta connecting this time to knot the game up and Solo received a yellow card for dissent.
Brazil couldn’t make the U.S. pay for playing with a player down so the game went to a 30-minute overtime period (2-15 minute periods). Although Brazil played cautiously in the second half, Brazil didn’t waste any time in the extra time as Marta scored her World Cup record tying 14th goal. The goal where Marta, who had to corral a bouncing pass from Maurine, beat Solo near post was controversial as it appeared Maurine was offside prior to receiving a pass from Erika. Brazil was clinging to their one goal lead as the extra time was ticking down though the U.S. had their opportunities. With all hope almost gone for the US, Melksham added three minutes of stoppage time as a result of an injury to Erika. That’s when the U.S. got their second most dramatic goal in their history (Brandi Chastain’s 1999 World Cup final penalty kick being the most dramatic) as Wambach, one of the best players in the air, headed a beautiful left footed cross from Megan Rapinoe in the 122nd minute sending the game to penalty kicks.
Boxx put the United States up 1-0 after Andreia, who obviously moved off the line, came up with a save on the first attempt. Christiane then easily beat Solo on the other ended and knotted the score up at one. Lloyd and Wambach knocked home their two kicks while Marta did the same for Brazil as the US led 3-2 with Daiane turn coming up. Daiane hit the ball well but Solo, who has never lost to Brazil in her career, guessed right and punched the ball away. Ripinoe and Ali Krieger’s penalty kicks sealed the game for team U.S. though Francielle did tally one more for Brazil. For the game, the U.S had 14 scoring chances and got five on net while Brazil took six shot in 16 opportunities. Melksham handed out a total eight cards with seven being yellow cards (Brazil received four and the U.S. had three),
Notes: Marta tied Germany’s Birgit Prinz for the most goals in World Cup History. The US will be without Buehler for their Wednesday game against France as a result of a straight red card. France, who is in the World Cup semifinals for the first time, defeated England 4-3 in penalty kicks in their quarterfinal.
A preview of the USA-France game should be coming later on July 11.