It just wouldn't be a major FIFA competition without outrage-inducing calls (or non-calls) from the referees and the 2011 Women's World Cup is no different. Still, the U.S. showed unbelievable resilience to overcome both that and being a player down for nearly an hour to advance to the semifinals on a penalty shootout, won 5-3 after a 2-2 draw. Redemption, revenge for the U.S.'s 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 WWC semifinal, this game had far too many components to properly highlight in a single post. But let's give it a try.
At first it seemed the referee in the U.S.'s quarterfinal against Brazil was favoring the U.S. when she refused to give Carli Lloyd a second yellow card for what appeared to be a purposeful handball. But, with the U.S. lucky to be leading from the start, thanks to a Brazil own goal less than 90 seconds into the game, things went haywire around 65 minutes in.
U.S. defender Rachel Buehler was called for a questionable foul as she and Marta battled for the ball in the box. The referee showed Buehler a straight red card and gave Brazil a penalty kick. Staring down the pressure and growing feelings of frustration, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made a tremendous save to stop Cristiane's shot and devastate Brazil. But, the referee awarded Brazil a retake because a U.S. player charged into the box before Cristiane took her shot -- a strict enforcement of an encroachment rule that is often loosely called. Incensed, Solo argued and was shown a yellow for dissent before Marta pounded in the second chance penalty to make it 1-1.
A player down, the U.S. fought valiantly to maintain the level score until the match went to extra time. Two minutes into the first additional period, Marta scored again to put Brazil up 2-1, but replays showed that Brazil should have been called for offside before the goal. And just to ensure the officials' impact on this game would be a negative one, the lineswoman kept her flag down and no call was made. Have a look...
Remarkably, the U.S. would again fight back. In injury time of the second and final extra period, with Brazil's advancement all but sealed, Megan Rapinoe delivered a perfect long pass to U.S. legend Abby Wambach, who headed in the equalizer with authority. Scored in the 122nd minute, it was the latest goal scored from the run of play in WWC history. Brimming with a resurgent confidence, the U.S. forced the game to penalties. Hope Solo was ready. And still angry.
In the shootout, both sides coolly carried out their duties. Solo again came up with a massive save on Daiane's shot. The U.S.'s Ali Krieger -- who nearly died in 2006 when she had a pulmonary embolism that caused a half-dozen small heart attacks -- eventually put away the last penalty to win the game. And now, having survived a test worthy of a World Cup final, the U.S. advances to semis.
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