Korea DPR: the Russian revelation
The North Koreans, already the surprise package of the finals, were crowned world champions after an emphatic 5-0 win over China PR in the final.
Earlier in the day, Brazil and the USA met in the match for third place just as they had done two years ago in Thailand , when the Americans were comfortable winners. This time, however, Lady Luck was with the South American side as they claimed the last spot on the podium courtesy of a penalty shootout win.
The driving rain that lashed Moscow's Lokomotiv Stadium put something of a damper on the final day's festivities and was very much at odds with the song chosen to start proceedings, U2's 'Beautiful day'.
In spite of that, the irrepressible North Korean fans were again out in force, while the local fans, for their part, threw their vocal weight behind the girls from Brazil, competing for third spot in the day's opening game.
Brazil break the curse
As well as the backing of the crowd, Brazil also had fortune on their side as they finally managed to secure a place on the podium, having been denied at this stage in the two previous editions of the tournament. Still, Jorge Barcelos' girls were made to suffer before getting their hands on bronze.
In spite of controlling proceedings for much of the opening half, the USA only managed three shots on goal, and Barbara was already showing the kind of form that would end up deciding the destination of the bronze medal. Going forward, the Auriverde relied heavily on quick breaks by Fabiana and lots of route one football to threaten the opposition.
The rain, which fell intermittently during the first half, became a veritable deluge after the break, making for a very heavy playing surface and not the prettiest of spectacles. In a second half with few real chances, Brazil had one gilt-edged opportunity to go ahead from the penalty spot, but Francielle slid her effort wide. With the players' spirits seeming to mirror the worsening conditions, the only way to separate the sides was by recourse to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The Americans had lost a shoot-out in the very same goal to China PR just three days earlier. Incredibly for Brazil, it would be the third edition in succession that penalties would decide if they made the podium. Fortunately for the Canarinhas, it was a case of third time lucky.
In the end, eight rounds of spot-kicks were needed to settle the matter after misses by Renata Costa and Erika were cancelled out by those of Alexandra Long and Amy Rodríguez . After seven kicks apiece, Maurine outsmarted Val Henderson, and Barbara saved from Amanda Poach, causing the US player to drop to the turf in utter despair.
The jubilant Brazilians, meanwhile, ran to embrace their team-mates and coaching staff, collectively falling to their knees around the national flag to give thanks for their victory. Shortly afterwards, the sambas began as the players celebrated in front of the applauding public.
From unknowns to champions
Later, in the day's main event, Korea DPR players took to the pitch at the Lokomotiv desperate to please their large contingent of supporters and determined to exact revenge for a defeat against the same opponents in the final of this year's AFC U-19 Women's Championship.
China PR, without star striker Ma Xiaoxu in their starting 11, went in at the break in shock after managing to concede three first-half goals. A mix-up in defence between Yuan Fan and Weng Xinzhi allowed Jo Yun Mi to skilfully dribble past Zhang Yanru for the opener.
Then two goals in seven minutes from Kim Song Hui all but ended the game as a contest. All Ma could do was give frantic instructions to her team-mates from behind the goal where she was warming up, but it was to no avail.
Not even her entrance at the start of the second half would make any difference, with Kim Song Hui seizing on a rebound to extend her side's lead and put herself in second place overall in the tournament scoring charts.
And, still, the goalfest was not at an end. Kil Song Hui wanted to get her name on the scoresheet, and this she duly did after stealing in at the near post to poke a corner kick past Zhang. The Steel Rosebuds were withering fast under the relentless rain.
Singing in the rain
It was umbrellas all round during the post-game award ceremonies as some impressive sheet lightning took the place of fireworks.
Ma had to quickly wipe away her tears to step forward and receive both the adidas Golden Shoe, as tournament top scorer, and the adidas Golden Ball as its best player. Doubtless, she would have gladly swappred places with Kim Song Hui as she picked up the adidas Silver Shoe as runner-up, but clutched the trophy along with a championship winner's medal. Picking up the adidas Bronze Shoe in third place was Germany's Anna Blasse.
The adidas Silver Ball went to Zhang, who in spite of shipping five goals in the final, enjoyed an outstanding tournament. USA striker Danesha Adams picked up the adidas Bronze Ball.
The subsequent closing ceremony at Russia 2006 was a sea of blue, red and white, as the Koreans prepared to celebrate long into the night after writing a glorious new chapter in women's football.