United States retain title

United States retain title

United States retain title

The United States won their third successive women's Olympic soccer title by beating Japan 2-1 in a superb gold medal match at Wembley Stadium on Thursday to avenge their defeat in last year's World Cup final.

Two goals from midfielder Carli Lloyd, a header after eight minutes and a rasping shot from the edge of the box in the 54th, set the US on their way to a fourth Olympic gold from the five women's tournaments played.

Japan, who beat the US on penalties in last year's World Cup final, halved the deficit after 63 minutes when the Americans failed to clear their lines, and Yuki Ogimi scored from close range, her third goal in successive matches.

Japan dominated in attack from then on but could not find an equaliser and were denied what looked like a certain goal seven minutes from time when US goalkeeper Hope Solo made an excellent save from substitute Mana Iwabuchi.

The attendance of 80,203 was a record for a women's match at an Olympics beating the 76,481 at the Atlanta Games in 1996. It was also the biggest crowd to watch a women's soccer match in Britain beating the 70,584 that saw Britain play Brazil at Wembley earlier in the tournament. They created a magical atmosphere at Wembley, completely different from the usual domestic crowds, with fans cheering and applauding both teams.

Although the US deserved their win, they rode their luck during the first half when Japan hit the bar twice and had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned down. After Lloyd gave the US an early lead, when she dived in to head the ball home just as Abby Wambach was shaping up to shoot, Ogimi should have equalised but was denied when Solo palmed her header on to the bar after 18 minutes.

Earlier on Thursday, Canada beat France 1-0 in the bronze medal match at Coventry, with the players arriving at Wembley in time to watch the final and be presented with their medals on the pitch along with silver medallists Japan and the US.