Alex Morgan sends U.S. soccer to gold medal match

By Barry Svrluga

Alex Morgan scored three minutes into injury time at end of overtime to give the United States women’s soccer team a thrilling 4-3 victory over Canada and seal their spot in the gold medal match against Canada.

Alex Morgan

Abby Wambach, left, celebrates Alex Morgan’s game-winning goal. (Stanley Chou/
Getty Images)Click the above image to see a gallery of highlights from Day 10.

Christine Sinclair scored all three goals for Canada, which three times took the lead against the heavily-favored Americans. But each time the U.S. team found a way back.

And with the game deadlocked and headed for a dreaded penalty kick shootout, Morgan rose up and headed the Americans to victory.

“Moments like this are what make sports so cool,” Abby Wambach said.

In the 123rd minute, late substitute Heather O’Reilly sent a high cross from the right wing into the box and Morgan out-leaped her defender to nod the ball over the arms of Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod and trigger a wild on-field celebration at historic Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

With the win, the United States advanced to face Japan in a rematch of last summer’s women’s World Cup final, won by the Japanese. The U.S. team, which has never failed to reach the gold medal match in the five women’s Olympic soccer tournaments, won gold in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).

After the match, Morgan — who had not scored since the tournament opener — said after the match that she didn’t even see the ball go in.

“I’m still in shock,” Morgan said in a post-match NBC interview. “I was saying the whole time, ‘I don’t care who scores as long as someone friggin’ scores and we win.’”

Sinclair put Canada on the board first in the 22nd minute when she cut inside to avoid a U.S. defender and tucked the ball past American goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The U.S. trailed 1-0 at the half, but Megan Rapinoe finally got the Americans on the board in the 54th minute when her corner from the left curled inside the near post and through several confused Canadian defenders.

Sinclair put Canada back on top in the 67th minute, but again Rapinoe answered, this time with a right-footed blast from just outside the 18-yard line.

Sinclair’s header in the 73rd minute gave Canada a one-goal lead yet again, but another miscue from McLeod set up the equalizer for the U.S. team.

Christine Sinclair scored a rare hat trick against the U.S. - including this header in the 73rd minute - but it wasn't enough. (David Moir/Reuters)

In the 80th minute, the referee whistled McLeod for delay of game before she punted the ball out of her box and awarded the U.S. an indirect free kick inside Canada’s 18. Rapinoe’s shot hit two defender’s arms, and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick.

Wambach converted with a right-footed shot inside the left post to tie the score and force overtime.

Both sides threatened over the two 15-minute halves, but neither could produce a go-ahead goal until Morgan’s last gasp header.

After the Americans didn’t generate a true scoring chance in the first 15-minute session, Coach Pia Sundhage turned to her second substitution on offense, bringing in the veteran O’Reilly to join fellow reserve Sydney Leroux.

Canada had opportunities on a pair of set pieces in the 103rd and 104th minutes, but neither seriously challenged U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The Americans’ best chance before the goal came in the 119th minute, when Morgan deftly handled a ball down the left wing and crossed to Wambach. Wambach’s head ball — her specialty — bounced off the cross bar.

“What a big goal by a young kid who’s got big expectations on herself,” Wambach said of Morgan’s game-winner. “You can’t put words into this experience. It’s epic.”

Matt Brooks contributed to this report

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