Aug 6, 2012; Manchester , United Kingdom; USA midfielder (15) Megan Rapinoe celebrates her goal with teammate Alex Morgan in the second half against Canada in the semi finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
In a match worthy of being one of the top all time Women's soccer matches, Alex Morgan's last minute goal in the second period of added extra time to defeat Canada 4-3 sent the United States to the gold medal game where they'll face Japan. The gold medal game will take place on Thursday at 11:45 PDT at Wembley Stadium on NBC Sports Network.
It was back and forth all night, with Canada's Christine Sinclair opening up the scoring in the 22'. With the ball in the box, Sinclair cut past defender Kelley O'Hara then smashed it past Hope Solo. It would go into halftime 1-0, but that was just the setup for the fast paced action that was to come.
Megan Rapinoe with a olympico corner kick that curled inside the near post equalized for the US at the 54' mark. Sinclair put Canada ahead again in the 67' getting up top unmarked to head in a cross. Rapinoe again drew the US level in the 70' with a screamer that beat the keeper and bounced inside the far post to cross the line.
Christine Sinclair managed the hat trick, again on a header from a corner kick, as the 5'9 Sinclair torched the US through the air.
The final equalizer requires it's own paragraph, as it involves an obscure rule. Canada's goalkeeper was whistled for holding onto the ball for longer than six seconds, giving the US an indirect free kick in the penalty area. It's rarely ever called, and it's unknown how much warning was given before it was.
That obscure rule (though not obscure to Thierry Henry) resulted in a penalty kick for intentional use of the hand. The Canadian defender turned her back with her arms raised, and the ball got trapped under her right arm as a result. Abby Wambach took the penalty and glided it home.
The match went into added extra time and both teams showed signs of fatigure playing 120 intense minutes in a match at the end of the tournament. The United States was able to control possession for most of the second extra time period.
Halfway into the final minute of stoppage time added to the extra time period, Heather O'Reilly corralled a lose ball outside the penalty area and sent in the hopefully cross. Alex Morgan found herself with enough space, went up on her marker without using her arms, and sent a floating header just over the outstretched arms of the keeper to win the match for the US in the most dramatic fashion.
Japan was able to hold off France in the earlier match, so they will meet the United States at Wembley for the gold medal; a year after the US and Japan met in the final of the Women's World Cup. It's great to see women's soccer being played at this high a level, with such a big audience finding out just how great it can be.