LONDON -- Members of the United States women's soccer team have spoken passionately about avenging its 2011 World Cup final loss to Japan virtually since the moment it was decided on penalty kicks.
Thursday night at Wembley Stadium, vengeance became theirs. And so did the gold medal.
The United States defeated Japan, 2-1, in the final of the Olympic women's soccer tournament.
Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the US, which took a 1-0 lead into halftime, built it to 2-0 in the 55th minute, and then held on for their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Yuki Ogami scored for Japan in the 63d minute, but despite a persistent offense that gave the US trouble for long stretches of time, that's all it could muster.
Japan's Mana Iwabuchi had Japan's best shot to tie the game in the 84th minute, but US keeper Hope Solo made the stop to hold the lead.
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81:00 Rachel Buehler off for the US, with Becky Sauerbrunn subbing in. Have to figure it's an injury to the dependable Buehler.
79:12: Attendance is 80,203, meaning there are 2,797 open seats. Those 2,797 who had something else to do are missing a good one. Maybe they all went to watch Bolt run the 200.
76:12: Alex Morgan flashes some fancy footwork to elude one defender, but he shot attempt sails high, and she missed an open Wambach.
63:11, US 2, Japan 1: You thought Japan, which played so well in the first half, would settle for silver without a fight? Not happening Yuki Ogimi collects a loose ball and scores, and the margin is suddenly a single goal again.
59:12: Cheney subs in for Megan Rapinoe after the goal.
55:10, US 2, Japan 0: Carli Lloyd gets her second of the game, dribbling through three defenders at full speed and scoring with a bomb that crossed into the far corner.
47:00: The teams are back on the field for the second half. Amazing atmosphere here. Wembley holds more than 88,000 and this place looks full. It's expected to be the largest crowd ever to watch a women's soccer game.
Halftime, US 1, Japan 0: The US gets a second to exhale, but it must know it's fortunate to be at the break with a lead. Japan's swarming defense frustrated the US more and more as the half went on, and if not for a couple of shots hitting crossbars, this one might be tied or have Japan in the lead. The missed call on an obvious handball is also a significant break for the US.
41:03: Team USA coach Pia Sundage is letting her defense have it after Japan's Shinobu Ohno nearly ties it.
37:09: Solo gets an assist from the crossbar a second time, when Japan captain Aya Miyama appears to have an open net but shoots too high. Momentum is in Japan's favor right now, and has been for the last half of the game.
27:08: A break for the US -- Tobin Heath gets away with an obvious handball on a Japanese free kick. Missed call. Somewhere, Team Canada nods in agreement.
21:06: US is doing it everything it can to get Morgan the ball in the open field. Watching her speed reminds me of Tyler Seguin with open ice. Breathtakingly fast.
18:06: Two huge stops by Hope Solo on Hope Solo on Japan's Yuni Ogimi, including one point-blank.
14:33: There's something you won't see often -- Wambach whiffing on an attempted shot. The US nearly got something out of it, though, when Megan Rapinoe collected the bouncing ball and fired from the far post, only to have her shot sail high.
7:57: Correction: It was Carli Lloyd who scored in the crowd, not Wambach.
7:37, 1-0 United States: Well, that was quick. Make it 12 goals in 15 Olympic and World Cup knockout games for Abby Wambach, who takes a feed from Alex Morgan -- those two sure know how to work together -- and scores from 9-feet out at the far post to give the US a quick lead. Beautiful goal.
LONDON -- Checking in from Wembley Stadium, where upwards of 80,000 fans began filing in hours ago in anticipation of the gold medal match between the United States and Japan.
The US, which defeated Canada, 4-3, on Alex Morgan's header to advance to the final, is attempting to avenge a loss on penalty kicks to Japan in the World Cup final. "I’m still heartbroken about losing the World Cup in the way we did,'' said Team USA co-captain Abby Wambach.
The US is 1-1-1 against Japan, a finesse team that defeated France to reach the final. "We think it’s fate that us and Japan are playing,'' said Morgan. "It could have turned out so differently.”
The US has made one lineup change, starting Shannon Boxx in place of Lauren Cheney at center midfield.
Stat of the day, courtesy of Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl's twitter feed: Wambach has 11 goals in 14 career Olympic and World Cup knockout games. Mia Hamm had 2 in 19.
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