The U.S. won its fourth gold out of five women's soccer tournaments in Olympic history by beating Japan 2-1 in a tense final. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo (and the crossbar) came up with some absolutely fantastic saves (gif here) to help stave off the almost constant Japan threat on goal, Carli Lloyd scored two great goals and was relentless in midfield, and Alex Morgan was always dangerous in attack and put in great crosses, including the one that led to the match's first goal in the eighth minute.
[ Photos: U.S. women's soccer team takes gold ]
But since we highlighted the Melissa Tancredi head stomp on Lloyd that was missed by the referee in the U.S.'s semifinal against Canada, it's only fair that we also show the handball referee Bibiana Steinhaus missed in the final. An otherwise excellent Tobin Heath accidentally deflected an early Japan free kick from just outside the box with an arm that shouldn't have been where it was and even though the Japanese players immediately protested, there was no call from the referee.
The U.S. was aided by a handball in the box that was called against Canada and led to an equalizing penalty kick from Abby Wambach late in the semifinal. Of course, it's impossible to say how or if the Heath handball being called would've changed the outcome of the final. The way Solo played, she could've saved the ensuing penalty. Japan didn't dwell on the missed call, though. Instead, it stayed focused, remained patient on the ball and kept pressure on the U.S. until the final whistle.
[ Photos: Hope Solo in Action ]
Carli Lloyd added a second goal in the 54th minute with a blast from outside the box. Nine minutes later, Yuki Ogimi put in a rebound to make it 2-1 and ensure the remaining half hour would cause a few ulcers.
Despite Japan maintaining 58 percent of possession and getting off just one shot on target less, the U.S. held on and avenged last year's World Cup loss with some truly clutch performances in front of an Olympic women's football record crowd of 80,203 at Wembley Stadium.
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