Four years ago, in the final of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing, Carli Lloyd notched the winning goal for the USA against Brazil in extra time, claiming the gold medal in the process. Prior to her country’s climactic clash with Japan at London 2012, she had explained to FIFA.com that she was ready to repeat the feat if necessary.
And so it turned out. Lloyd scored two impressively-taken goals in the Olympic final at Wembley, securing a suspenseful 2-1 victory over the Nadeshiko and the third gold-medal triumph in a row for the United States – the fourth in the country's history.
“It’s amazing. With Shannon Boxx back in the line-up, I was able to get further forward, and I felt pretty comfortable. For the first goal, I saw Alex Morgan had managed to get a cross in, and I just completely threw myself at it. I didn’t even see that Abby Wambach was getting ready to shoot. All I could think about was sticking the ball in the net,” said an emotional Lloyd, a gold medal hanging proudly around her neck.
As for the second of her successful strikes, it was something that simply came naturally to her. “What I love to do is to take players on and shoot from distance, so when I saw the gap I didn’t even think about it; I just hit it,” she continued.
“A goal in Beijing, and now two today. At my third Olympic Games I’m planning on scoring a hat-trick!” said the dynamic midfielder with a wide grin.
Wambach, who was close to accidentally kicking Lloyd in the face as both players went for the same cross that led to the opening goal, does not hesitate to add to the praise being lavished on her team-mate. “She’s been a real leader – she’s worked so hard in midfield throughout the tournament, and she deserved to top it all off like that,” commented the veteran striker.
Lloyd was not the Stars and Stripes’ only heroine on Thursday evening. Between the sticks, Hope Solo showed once again why she is one of the most highly rated goalkeepers in the women’s game, pulling off top-class saves on at least three occasions to deny the Japanese.
“Goalkeepers often make the difference in a final," said Wambach. "That’s what Hope did today. She made two or three huge saves at just the right moment. That’s why she’s the best keeper on the planet. She made some incredible stops in 2008, she did it in 2011, and she was on top form again today. I’m happy because Carli’s two goals meant that Hope’s great work didn’t go unrewarded,” she added.
Lloyd is keen to reiterate the comments made by her compatriot. “She’s clearly the best keeper in the world. The best of all time!” she said.
Solo is quick to return the compliment. “I can’t praise Carli highly enough. She stood up to be counted when it mattered. She’s a brilliant player who’s always there when you need her,” said the charismatic American No 1, adding with a wink in the direction of her proud team-mates, “But you can’t win a massive tournament like this one without making a few good saves.”