Hello and welcome to Ibaraki Kashima Stadium for today’s Olympic semi-final match between the United States and Canada. The four-time world champions have navigated a rocky course through group stage and survived a thrilling quarter-final clash against the Netherlands to reach the last four, where a showdown with their northern border rivals awaits.
The USA fell behind 1-0 in the 18th minute, stormed back to take a 2-1 lead on goals in the 28th and 31st, only to concede an equalizer early in the second half. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saved a penalty in the 82nd minute to help send the match to extra time, then made two crucial stops during the penalty shootout to send the USA through to its sixth Olympic semi-final. Canada also needed extra time and penalties to advance to the semis, topping Brazil from the spot following a scoreless 120 minutes of action.
“You never underestimate the USA,” Canada midfielder Desiree Scott told the Guardian. “They’re one of the top nations in the world with class players front and back. But you do watch the tournament, watch games progress and think ‘Ooh, maybe this is our time,’ and that does build a bit of confidence.”
Today’s winner will advance to Monday’s gold medal match against either Sweden or Australia, whose second semi-final is set to kick off in few hours’ time.
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