The United States and Canada will do battle in the semi-finals of the women’s football tournament at Tokyo 2020 after edging into the final four.
USA – winners of the Olympic tournament four times previously – managed to beat the Netherlands 4-2 on penalties in their quarter-final after the game finished 2-2 at the end of extra time.
Having finished with fewer than six points in the group stage of a major event for the first time in their history, the USA knew a much-improved display was needed against a Dutch side who scored 21 times in their opening three games, the most of any women’s side at a single Olympics.
They duly delivered a strong display as they twice took the lead only for Vivianne Miedema to continue her sensational form, scoring twice to cancel out goals from Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams in an engrossing contest in Yokohama.
Megan Rapinoe swept the decisive penalty kick high into the net after Alyssa Naeher had made two stops to her right.
BRAZIL FALL SHORT AGAIN
Canada await USA after they inflicted further heartbreak on Brazil, whose wait for gold in this event goes on.
Beaten semi-finalists in Rio five years ago, Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw before suffering another defeat on penalties to the 2016 bronze medallists.
Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, who was injured in the closing stages of extra time, recovered to make two critical saves in the shoot-out to secure a 4-3 win.
“In the moment, it was about trusting myself, trusting my instincts, and trusting my ability to make a save,” she said afterwards.
“Pain is temporary. We have our eyes on the prize.”
WHITE TREBLE NOT ENOUGH AS MATILDAS WIN CLASSIC
The stand-out quarter-final took place between Australia and Great Britain, a seven-goal thriller eventually ending in a 4-3 victory for the Matildas.
Two goals from Ellen White had turned the game on its head and looked to be enough to send Hege Riise’s side through, but Chelsea star Sam Kerr levelled in the 89th minute with a crisp low strike.
The contest then swung Australia’s way in a dramatic minute in extra time, Mary Fowler’s deflected shot finding the top corner after Caroline Weir had a penalty saved at the other end.
Kerr scored another before White completed her hat-trick with a deft header to set up a frantic finale, with Australia just holding on for a famous win.
Remarkably, they overperformed in terms of expected goals by 3.2, their highest such figure at these finals.
Australia will contest their semi-final against Sweden, who ended Japan’s quest for a medal on home soil with a 3-1 victory.
Mina Tanaka cancelled out Magdalena Eriksson’s sixth-minute opener, but Sweden took control in the second half through further goals from Stina Blackstenius and Kosovare Asllani.