The U.S. team move on in the Women's World Cup in Germany after overcoming several obstacles to pull off the stunner against Marta and BrazilIt was one of the all-time dramatic matches in women's soccer history.
The United States women's national team overcame a controversial call on a penalty kick, a red card and a one-goal deficit in extra time en route to a 2-2 (5-3 on penalties) win to advance to the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup in Germany.
The Americans now have a smooth path to the finals after watching tournament favorites Germany and Brazil go down early on. Next up is France.
"I'm without words what happened today. Its just unbelievable," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "I'm swedish and happy to learn every day more about that American mentality which the girls showed today - never to give up. Its just unbelievable."
Forward Abby Wambach scored on a header in the 122nd minute to send the game to penalty kicks, where goalkeeper Hope Solo saved Brazil's third attempt to secure the win for the top-ranked team. The U.S. scored on all five penalty kicks.
Marta, the five-time World Player of the Year, scored Brazil's first two goals after an own goal by Daiane in the second minute gave the U.S. an early lead. It took a whole two hours before the Americans were able to score again.
A long cross from Megan Rapinoe found Wambach, who headed the ball in from a tough angle in with just seconds left in stoppage time. It was the second goal during this year's World Cup for Wambach, who had been in one of the worst slumps of her career.
"It was a perfect cross and I saw the ball flattering over the Brazilian defender and made it," Wambach said. "It's our mentality never to give up."
Wambach also scored the third of the United States' five penalties moments before Daiane continued her disastrous afternoon by watching her attempt get denied by Solo. Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger also beat Brazil goalkeeper Andreia.
"I got almost a heart attack when I went for my penalty," said Krieger, the last to kick. "I just watched the ball. I didn't think so much and then I scored."
Wambach nearly scored just 74 seconds into the match but Daiane ended up putting the ball in the back of her own net. Wambach was the closest American to the play after midfielder Shannon Boxx delivered the cross from the corner.
The Americans seemed all but eliminated from the tournament following Marta's goal early in extra time. They were playing with only 10 players after a bizarre sequence midway through the second half that began with a controversial call by the referee.
In the 68th minute, Marta was illegally taken down in the box by what initially appeared to be an aggressive tackle by defender Rachel Buehler, who was handed a red card on the play. Replays, however, suggested that there may not have been a foul on the play.
Cristiana took the first penalty kick, which was deflected away by Solo. After a quick celebration by the U.S. team, the referee waved off the first attempt, claiming that Solo had gone early in her from her to make the save. Solo was given a card for arguing the call and Marta stepped up for the second attempt and easily knocked it in.
"The first penalty of Brazil? I have no idea why it had to be repeated," Solo said. "I think I didn't do anything wrong. I hoped you, the media could tell me what I did wrong."
At this point, it doesn't matter. The U.S. is on to the next one.
"It was fantastic night but nothing is done yet. Now we face France," Wambach said. "The have a very good team, too. So all our concentration from now is on that game."