- Abby Wambach's emphatic extra-time finish drew USA even with Brazil
- Goal helped USA advance to the Germany 2011 semi-finals via penalty shoot-out
- Think this is the greatest Women's World Cup goal? Choose yours here
The end was near for the USA; that much seemed clear.
Though they took the lead less than two minutes into their FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ quarter-final match against Brazil, goalkeeper Hope Solo had been beaten twice by the indefatigable Marta. The second goal came just two minutes into the first period of extra time to pull Brazil ahead 2-1. Already down to ten players, USA could have come away deflated from the Brazilian superstar's strike.
As stoppage time ticked on in the second extra-time period, it looked like the Stars and Stripes were on their way to their earliest World Cup exit in history. Enter prodigious goalscorer Abby Wambach.
In front of 25,598 spectators at Dresden's Rudolf-Harbig Stadium, the USA mounted a final attack. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe received a pass, took a touch up the left side of the field and picked out Wambach making her run toward the far post.
Rapinoe hit a deep, left-footed cross while Wambach settled at the top of the six-yard box, out-jumped Brazil goalkeeper Andreia and unleashed a pummelling header into the back of the net in the 122nd minute.
"The ball took what seemed like forever to get to my head," Wambach recounted. "Megan Rapinoe couldn't celebrate with us because it took her too long to get to us as a celebrating team."
The game would advance to a penalty shoot-out. Solo shined for then-head coach Pia Sundhage's side, denying Daiane while all five USA takers scored their attempts to advance 5-3. And while her team would fall in the final to Japan, Wambach says her goal against Brazil remains one of her favourite memories at the World Cup.
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. One of the best moments I've ever had as an athlete."