More penalty pain for US as Brazil take bronze
The USA slumped to a second successive penalty shoot-out defeat in torrential rain at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium, with a goalless draw against Brazil in the match for third place followed by a 6-5 defeat on spot-kicks.
The US, beaten 5-4 on penalties in the semi-final by China PR, had coasted to a 3-0 win when they met the Canarinhas at an identical stage of Thailand 2004, but it proved impossible to separate these sides two years on, and Barbara's brilliance proved decisive in an epic shoot-out.
"It was a tough game and the two teams were very equal," was Brazil coach Jorge Barcelos' gracious post-match verdict. "It's a big honour for us just to be playing the US at this level and, although either team could have won, I'm proud that it was us."
"It was a pretty even game between two highly-skilled teams," echoed his American counterpart, Tim Schulz. "The rain came in and took away some of the skill, but it was still a good game that went back and forth. I'm obviously disappointed about our results here - like my players, I wanted first place - but in terms of their development, I'm very pleased with what I've seen."
As expected, the charismatic US coach had once again proved that the only thing consistent about his team selection is its inconsistency, making five changes from the team which had out-classed but wastefully failed to finish off China in a one-sided last four clash.
By contrast, Barcelos largely stood by the Auriverde players who had failed to sparkle against Korea DPR , and was duly rewarded with some excellent play that almost led to a first-minutes opener for Stephane, his solitary change, who volleyed just over after beating her marker to a Fabiana cross.
The Brazilians, roared on by a partisan Russian crowd, continued to enjoy the better of the early exchanges, and in 10 minutes Stephane had a neatly-taken 'goal' disallowed, although there was an element of comedy to her subsequent protests given that she had been fully 10 yards offside.
For the erstwhile sluggish USA, this close shave proved a timely wake-up call, and the minutes which followed saw Schulz's side finally emerge from their slumber to begin threatening at the other end.
Barbara's first test came in 12 minutes when she made a straightforward save from the recalled Amy Rodriguez , but there was nothing routine about her next stop, a magnificent tip-over to deny Carrie Dew at point-blank range.
This was a good spell for the US, and when Kelley O'Hara headed over with the keeper committed, it merely seemed a matter of when, rather than if, they would take the lead. As it was, however, the Americans lost their way somewhat as the half wore on and Shulz's reaction to this during the break was to bring on dynamic Danesha Adams, who was still in with an outside chance of pipping Ma Xiaoxu to the Golden Shoe.
More rain, and more penalties
By this stage, the rain had returned to the Lokomotiv stadium with something a vengeance and the quality of the game was suffering as a consequence, with players from both sides slipping and sliding around the increasingly greasy surface.
Brazil were, though handed a golden opportunity to seize the advantage 11 minutes after the break after the referee adjudged that US goalkeeper Val Henderson had taken more of Danielle than she had of the ball in a tussle inside the box. Francielle's resultant penalty was poor, however, and slid wide of the same post that Brittany Bock had struck with her fateful kick against the Chinese.
As thunder echoed round the stadium, it was difficult to see where a goal was likely to come from, although Barbara twice had to show fine agility to tip round the post well-struck long-range efforts, first from Tobin Heath and then from Rodriguez.
There was an air of inevitability to the outcome, however, and with no extra time due to the game's proximity to the final, it was straight to penalties, where Barbara's heroics against Alexandra Long and Amanda Poach, allied to a miss from Rodriguez, ensured that failed attempts from Renata Costa and Erika counted for nothing.
"We feel like champions," the Player of the Match grinned afterwards. "Everyone feels great and this is a good reason to celebrate, so we'll be having a party tonight."
Player of the Match: BARBARA
"The goalkeeper won the match for Brazil, both with some excellent saves during the match and with her excellence during the penalty shoot-out," Fran Hilton-Smith (RSA), FIFA Technical Study Group .