The 2012 Olympic Games: The Womens Medal Matches

The winners were predictable long before the first match – arguably since the last kick of the 2011 World Cup Final penalty shoot-out. The United States, fuelled by revenge for a defeat in that match they didn’t really deserve, went ahead early in an appropriately entertaining Olympic final and, despite Japan’s best performance of the Games, stayed there. The best tournaments are usually won by either the best and/or the most popular teams. “Team USA” were undoubtedly the first. They were undoubtedly not the second. Arguably they weren’t the best team last night. But they’ll probably regard that as sweeter revenge still for being the better side in Frankfurt last year, yet losing. Carli Lloyd was inches away from the “perfect” hat-trick (header, right-foot shot, left-foot shot, all three goals in-a-row) – and probably the best of the genre. She came from out of nowhere to convert the metronomic Alex Morgan’s cutback from the left touchline in the eighth minute. Her 35-yard run and magnificent 20-yard right-foot shot in the 54th minute was one of the best goals of the tournament, if not quite the best. And she missed the Japanese crossbar by a ball’s circumference with a well-struck left-footer on 82 minutes. Lloyd didn’t even begin the Games in the starting line-up, coming on two minutes after they fell two behind to France, so no-one would have begrudged...

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