A record crowd of 80,203 poured into Wembley Stadium on Thursday night for a dramatic women's Olympic soccer final worthy of the hallowed grounds on which it was played. Wembley is the second-largest stadium in Europe, the national stadium of England, and has been the site of numerous memorable FA Cup and Champions League matches.
But never had women put on such a show at this world-famous venue -- unless you count Madonna and Tina Turner, who have played here to sold-out crowds.
The U.S. avenged its heartbreaking loss in the 2011 World Cup final by beating rival Japan 2-1 to win a third straight Olympic gold medal and fourth in the past five Olympics. Midfielder Carli Lloyd of Delran, N.J., scored both goals -- one in each half -- to secure the win for the Americans. Yuki Ogimi scored the lone goal for Japan in the 63rd minute.
The Americans needed three comebacks and a 123rd-minute header to get past Canada in the semifinal, a game many consider one of the most exciting in women's history. This time, there was no last-minute drama, no controversy, no penalty-kick shootout.
When it was all over, the U.S. women leaped into each other arms. Lloyd was in tears. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who made several huge saves, grabbed an American flag with Lloyd and they went over and waved to the American fans in the endzone as Queen's "We are the Champions'' played over the loudspeakers. The U.S. players all immediately pulled on t-shirts that read: "Greatness has been found''.
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