OLYMPICS: USWNT finds Olympic redemption, beats Japan for gold
Revenge is sweet.
A year after falling to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final, the US women's national team found redemption on Thursday by defeating the Japanese 2-1 in the Olympic gold-medal match at Wembley Stadium.
Carli Lloyd played the hero, as her two goals paved the way to glory en route to the Americans' third consecutive Olympic title.
After a brilliant cross from Alex Morgan, Lloyd opened the scoring in just the eighth minute when she headed home the early go-ahead goal in front of teammate Abby Wambach. Lloyd would tab the eventual game-winner when she unleashed a right-footed blast from the top of the box in the 54th minute.
The defending World Cup champions refused to go down quietly, however.
After Yuki Ogimi brought Japan back within one in the 63rd minute, they seemed destined to equalize seven minutes from time when Asuna Tanaka dispossesed US captain Christie Rampone deep in the American defensive third. Tanaka drove hard to the net before attempting to curl her shot far post, but goalkeeper Hope Solo made one of the most impressive and crucial saves of the tournament for the US, diving to her left to parry the shot wide and out of harm's way.
Former University of Portland midfielder Megan Rapinoe played her usual feisty game though was subbed out in the 57th minute for Lauren Cheney.
The United States managed to keep Japan in check for the remaining few minutes, and captured their fourth women's soccer gold medal since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1996. The USWNT have been in all five tournament finals, their only setback a 3-2 defeat to Norway in 2000 in Sydney.
In the bronze medal match between Canada and France, it took a 92nd minute strike from forward Diana Matheson to give the Candians the 1-0 victory. Captain Christine Sinclair, fresh from her hat trick in the emotional loss to the US helped lead the way the for Canadians throughout. Though France had dominated the second half, former UP Pilot midfielder Sophie Schmidt fired a desperation shot on net late in the match. While the shot was deflected, Matheson was in the right place at the right time and slotted it home with seconds to spare.