U.S. Women Head To World Cup Semifinals

There was high drama Sunday in the women's World Cup soccer tournament: The U.S. team got a last-second, come-from-behind victory over Brazil. NPR's Tom Goldman fills in host Guy Raz on how the Americans pulled it off in Dresden, Germany.

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GUY RAZ, host: An unbelievable, last-minute victory for the U.S. Women's soccer team in a World Cup match against Brazil earlier today. Here's how it ended.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOCCER GAME)

IAN DARKE: And she does it. And the USA are into the last score. It's been a near-miracle this - in Dresden.

RAZ: That's ESPN Ian Darke calling the game-winning penalty kick by American defender Ali Krieger.

NPR's Tom Goldman was watching the game. Tom, how did the U.S. women's team do this? How did they pull it off?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

TOM GOLDMAN: Just a miracle, pretty much. The U.S. was down 2-to-1. They were down to their last grains of sand in the hourglass. The very end of the second 50-minute overtime, the U.S. mounted what probably was going to be its last attack.

U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe launched a beautiful long pass. And as the ball came down, the Brazilian goalkeeper leaped. The ball just cleared her fingertips. Forward Abby Wambach, the veteran U.S. star forward, leaped up, snapped a powerful header into the goal, tying the game 2-2, sending it into penalty kicks. Just phenomenal.

RAZ: And I understand the women's team played without a full team for most of the game.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. This was the most controversial part of it. It really seemed to turn the crowd to the American side. In the second half, Rachel Buehler, the U.S. got a red card. She got kicked out of the game for fouling Brazil's Marta right in front of the U.S. goal.

Brazil took a penalty kick. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made a beautiful diving save. But the ref ordered a retake because she said Solo had moved off the line before the first kick. It really didn't look like she did.

RAZ: Wow.

GOLDMAN: Brazil scored the second time. Many in the crowd were jeering the Brazilians. But the U.S. hung in there. Even though they were a woman down, Brazil couldn't finish them off, and we know how it ended.

RAZ: So, Tom, the women's team now goes to the semifinals, right? What's next for them?

GOLDMAN: This Wednesday, they play France in the semifinals. You know, Guy, with tournament favorite Germany out, Brazil out, the U.S. has as good a chance as anyone to win.

RAZ: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

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