Four years have passed since the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004 and, on the surface at least, little appears to have changed. On Monday 18 August Brazil and the United States ensured a repeat of the pair’s final meeting on Greek soil by comfortably dispatching semi-final opponents Germany and Japan respectively.
We take a closer look at the day’s two emphatic wins here at Beijing 2008, victories that have guaranteed the gold medal goes to either North or South America and left Germany and Japan to battle it out for bronze.
Brazil 4-1 Germany, Shanghai
Having lost to Germany in the final of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, also in Shanghai, Brazil were desperate to avenge that painful 2-0 reverse. And coach Jorge Barcellos’ charges did just that, making light of the oppressive heat and humidity to put in an irresistible display of adventurous attacking football. The Germans were thus dealt their first defeat at women’s senior level by the Canarinhas, who in the process booked their place in a second consecutive Olympic final.
German keeper Nadine Angerer, who had yet to concede here at Beijing 2008, found herself picking the ball out of the net a staggering four times in 33 minutes, including a goal from Auriverde genius Marta – sweet revenge for her missed penalty from China 2007. Cristiane, another veteran of the Athens 2004 campaign, added two more strikes to her personal tally and sits atop the scorers’ charts with five. The deadly duo will also be desperate to get one over final opponents the USA, who denied Brazil Olympic gold four years ago.
Japan 2-4 United States, Beijing
In the end the power and experience of the North American women proved decisive against their pacy and adventurous Japanese counterparts, who failed to build on the early lead provided by Ohno. Indeed, the reigning champions managed to turn the scoreline on its head in the space of three minutes just prior to the interval. And despite the Nadeshiko’s continued efforts to get back into the game after the break, Pia Sundhage’s Stars and Stripes underlined their dominance by firing two more strikes past Miho Fukumoto.
Angela Hucles, who grabbed a brace for the Americans, was the star of the show on a night that saw history repeat itself. The defending champions defeated Japan once at Athens 2004 and twice here in Beijing, will they do the same against Brazil?
Two goals, an assist and an audacious nutmeg in the build-up to her team’s first goal all combined to make the 23-year-old sharpshooter the day’s outstanding performer. Cristiane, who had failed to score against the Germans in the final of China 2007 and in the two sides’ opening game here at Beijing 2008, more than made up for it with a devastating all-round display. The German defence will no doubt rue the day she crossed their path, while the acrobatic way she celebrated her first goal could see her enter the gymnastics events come London 2012…
10 – Germany striker Birgit Prinz can take a small measure of consolation from scoring her tenth goal at an Olympic Football Tournament. The steely front-runner has now scored at Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
What they said
"It doesn’t matter if we conceded four goals or two. The only thing that matters is that they scored more than us and that was enough for them," Germany captain and goalscorer Birgit Prinz.
All the results
Brazil 4-1 Germany
Japan 2-4 United States
Story provided by FIFA media. For more information visit www.fifa.com