For those who weren't able to tune into all the action from Germany this past weekend, the most talked about game was the epic showdown between the US and Brazil and for good reason- the game lived up to all pre-game expectations and was a closely fought battle with the US defeating Marta and the Brazilian powerhouse.
The US squad, who has been peaking at just the right moment in this tournament, took an early lead with an own-goal by a somewhat shell-shocked Brazilian team who struggled to find their rhythm. Brazil, lead by five-time World Player of the Year, Marta in her PUMA V1.11 boot, pushed back against the US with attempts to even up the game. It was not until the 68 minute that Brazil got back on level terms. After a series of great passes, Brazil was handed a lifeline from the penalty spot, which also saw the USA reduced to 10 players with a red card issued to US defender Rachel Buehler. The game was evened out with a twice taken penalty kick which Marta calmly slid by the goalie into the back of the net.
The match finished 1-1 in regulation time before Marta struck again with a moment of absolute magic in extra time; her sublime flick into the bottom corner putting Brazil up 2-1. The goal was Marta’s 14th World Cup strike, making her the joint top goal scorer ever! With the Brazilians on course for victory, the US showcased their never-say-die attitude as Abby Wambach grabbed an unlikely equalizer with the last kick of the game ensuring the match would be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The US and Brazil went goal for goal and Marta tucked away her second penalty of the afternoon. Luck however was not on Brazil’s side as defender Daiane had her shot saved. In dramatic fashion, the US takes the win in penalties over Brazil 5-3. Marta may be disappointed to be leaving Germany, but she can take pride in the fact she currently leaves as the World Cup as its top goal scorer, whilst the USA are now one of the tournament’s favorites.
Elsewhere in Germany, there was more penalty shoot-out heartache as France defeated England 4-3 on penalties. PUMA Football star Jill Scott opened the scoring for the English, somewhat against the run of play with a smart finish in an action packed encounter. Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams and Karen Carney all put in a stellar performance for England, who were just three minutes away from progressing to the semi-finals. But, Les Bleus with Marie-Laure Delie a constant danger with her many runs, drew level, forcing the game into extra-time and then penalties.
Hosts and defending World Cup champions, Germany, were knocked out by Japan thanks to a single counter-attacking goal in extra-time. Linda Bresonik, Simone Laudehr, Inka Grings enjoyed outstanding games for the Germans, but they could not find a way past a resolute Japanese side who were happy to protect their one goal advantage. Despite putting Japan under huge pressure and the introduction of Alexandra Popp, Japan held on for a great victory.
World Cup heavyweights Sweden progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Australia with Therese Sjögran opening the scoring after ten minutes. The Swedes used all their big game experience with Charlotte Rohlin, Sara Larsson and Josefine Öqvist pulling strings as they remained in control for the full 90 minutes against an exciting Australia side.
Make sure to tune into all the semi final action on ESPN on Wed, July 13th:
11:30 a.m :USA vs France
2:15 p.m: Japan vs Sweeden