Old Trafford has not seen many better games than this recently. In the women’s football semi-final, Olympic gold holders the United States faced Canada; a local derby of sorts, transplanted across the Atlantic.
It was as dramatic, meaningful and tense as anything held at England’s foremost club stadium over the last few years. It was a game of seven goals, which ended deep into stoppage time of extra time, when Alex Morgan headed the US 4-3 up and into the gold medal match at Wembley. Before then Canada had taken the lead three times but always pulled back by a ferociously competitive American side who went on to win gold three days later.
Canadian forward Christine Sinclair scored an excellent hat-trick, but her first two were followed by Megan Rapinoe equalisers. With 10 minutes left Canada were 3-2 up but the US were awarded a free-kick for the Canadian goalkeeper holding the ball for too long. The free-kick was blocked by a Canadian defender’s arm, and a penalty was awarded which Abby Wambach coolly converted.
It was probably fortunate, but the US pushed on and when Morgan converted Heather O’Reilly’s late cross, it demonstrated the remarkable skill and nerve of the gold-medal winning US Women’s National Team.