Boston Breakers midfielder Heather O’Reilly sent in a perfect cross from the corner, and Alex Morgan headed it past Canada keeper Erin McLeod in the 122nd minute of Monday’s Olympic semifinal match in Manchester, England. The win sends the U.S. to the gold medal match Thursday to take on Japan.
In what peole have already started calling one of the greatest soccer matches ever played, the U.S. beat Canada, 4-3, in Monday’s Olympic semifinal at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, and Boston Breakers midfielder Heather O’Reilly helped lift the U.S. to a come-from-behind victory.
O’Reilly sent in a perfect cross from deep in the right corner, and Alex Morgan headed it past Canada keeper Erin McLeod in the 123rd minute to send the U.S. to Thursday’s gold medal match where it will meet Japan for a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
The U.S. has now advanced to all five women’s Olympic soccer finals, winning gold in 2008, 2004, and 1996 and taking silver in 2000. O’Reilly is one of a select few players looking to win her third straight gold medal.
O’Reilly talked to the Star-Ledger (New Jersey) newspaper after the game about her thoughts as she entered the match in overtime.
"My teammates have been battling for 100 minutes, the least I can do is play my hardest and bring some energy," she said. "We don’t mean to make it so dramatic, but this team knows it’s going to claw and fight for each other. We’ve proven it before.”
Following her game-winning goal, Morgan talked after the game about what she thought when O’Reilly crossed the ball into the box.
“Just get in the air and get my head on it," Morgan said. "Heather (O’Reilly) is great with crosses. She’s so great getting down the end line and putting the cross in. I was just trying to be in the right position and it just so happened that I was. I still can’t believe it.”
The U.S. had to come from behind three times Monday as Canada’s Christine Sinclair gave her country the lead in the 22nd, 67th, and 73rd minutes. Her first goal gave Canada a 1-0 lead, and her two other tallies countered goals by U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe (54th and 70th minutes). The U.S. need an 80th-minute penalty kick goal by Abby Wambach to send the game into overtime. The game appeared to be headed to penalties before O’Reilly connected with Morgan for the game-winner with just over 30 seconds left in added time in the second overtime period.
O’Reilly came on in the 101st minute, replacing former Breakers forward Lauren Cheney. It was O’Reilly’s 170th cap, and the assist was her eighth assist in 18 games played this year for the U.S.
The gold medal match takes place Thursday at 2:45 p.m. ET at Wembley Stadium in London. Japan advanced to the finals after beating France, 2-1, on Monday.