Monday 20 April 2020, 07:00

#WorldCupAtHome: Marta magic not enough to stop USA

  • #WorldCupAtHome series continues with Brazil’s 2011 showdown with USA

  • A quarter-final that went the distance and had it all

  • Stunning display by Marta before Wambach soars to head in late equaliser

The Stars and Stripes were taken all the way by a Brazil side inspired by the incomparable Marta. Despite having a player sent off and being a goal down in the closing seconds of extra time, Pia Sundhage’s charges somehow found a win to way a thrilling tie.

Match facts

Brazil 2-2 USA (USA win 5-3 on penalties) 10 July 2011 Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion, Dresden

⚽Scorers Brazil: Marta (68’, 92’) I USA: Daiane o.g. (2’) Wambach (120’)


  • Brazil: Andreia, Aline (c), Daiane Rodrigues, Erika, Formiga (Renata Costa, 113’), Ester, Fabiana, Maurine, Cristiane, Marta, Rosana (Francielle, 85’)

  • USA: Hope Solo, Ali Krieger, Rachel Buehler, Christie Rampone (c), Amy LePeilbet, Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly (Tobin Heath, 108’), Lauren Cheney (Megan Rapinoe, 55’), Amy Rodriguez (Alex Morgan, 72’), Abby Wambach

Shannon Boxx of USA consoles Marta of Brazil

The stakes

Victorious in all three of their matches in Group D and boasting the world’s best player in Marta, Brazil went into the match full of confidence. Beaten finalists four years earlier, the South Americans had every reason to believe that a quarter-final win over one of the giants of the women’s game would be the ideal springboard to a potential first world title.

The Stars and Stripes had been in less convincing form in Group C, where they lost to Sweden. The two-time world champions and winners of two Olympic gold medals in the 2000s, a star-studded USA side were nevertheless intent on lifting the Trophy for the first time in 12 years.

The match

Fast start for USA: The Americans went ahead early when Shannon Boxx’s low cross from the left was flicked home. Though it initially looked as if Abby Wambach had got the touch to score her second goal of the tournament, the ball had in fact been sliced into her own net by Daiane. The Brazil defender had a night to forget, later missing her shootout spot-kick to allow USA to advance.

Marta shines again: The scorer of a stunning brace against Norway and in superlative form in all her side’s group matches, the queen of world football was once again a class apart. She won and converted the penalty that brought her side level on the hour mark, outfoxing three American defenders by impishly flicking the ball over her head before being hauled down by Rachel Buehler, who was sent off. Marta did not stop there, conjuring up another audacious flick to put her side ahead at the start of extra time.

Wambach leaves it late: With the Brazilians poised to advance to the semi-finals for a third time, Wambach summoned up all the energy she had left to rise and nod home Megan Rapinoe’s pinpoint centre in the final minute of extra time. The forward’s last-gasp equaliser was the latest goal in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ history.

USA's Carli Lloyd and Brazil's Formiga battle at Germany 2011

The star

One of the main reasons why USA got the better of the Brazilians was the performance of Hope Solo between the posts. The Stars and Stripes keeper made a string of superb saves to keep the Americans in the game despite being a player down and then pulled off a decisive stop from Daiane in the shootout.

What they said

“We had every opportunity to give up. I know that if I hit it right, it hits the back of the net. That was my moment. For whatever reason, it was as if I was preparing for the moment my whole life. Even though we didn't win the World Cup, that moment allowed us to come home as champions. It was one of the best moments I've ever had as an athlete.” USA forward Abby Wambach

“It was a very tough match and it could have gone either way. We knew how strong the Americans were. We were perhaps the more creative side but we just couldn’t manage to get the job done. We were absolutely determined to go for it and play on the counter but we conceded right at the end of extra time and had to go to penalties. Even though we didn’t get what we wanted, I still think we had a good World Cup.” Brazil coach Kleiton Lima

Abby Wambach of USA celebrates after scoring her team's equalizing goal

What happened next?

The Americans beat France 3-1 to book a place in the Final against surprise packages Japan, who had never been past the quarter-finals before. The first-time finalists stunned the favourites in the showpiece, twice coming from behind before winning 3-1 on penalties.