The first shock of the weekend saw hosts Germany eliminated from the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ on Saturday night, but joint favourites Brazil fared no better on Sunday and now find themselves packing for home just one game into the knockout stage. In an enthralling and ultimately gripping quarter-final tie, coach Kleiton Lima's team fell to USA 5–3 on penalties after the match ended 2–2 at the end of a dramatic period of extra-time.
For long stretches of the early evening, the South Americans looked odds-on winners. USA did take the lead with barely 100 seconds on the clock through a Daiane own goal, but FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Marta equalised on 68 minutes, and then put A Seleção ahead in the second minute of extra time.
With the Americans down to ten for the last 50 minutes of play, it seemed nothing could stop Brazil, but veteran Abby Wambach equalised in added time at the end of the extra 30 minutes to send the match to penalties. USA keeper Hope Solo saved the desperately unlucky Daiane’s spot kick, leaving Ali Krieger to net and book her side a place in the semi-finals.
A day when Brazil’s luck ran out
“This match had to end with a winner, and today it wasn't us,” a subdued Rosana said after her team's quarter-final exit. “It was a very good match, and I hope the people in Brazil will now have more respect for women's football. We lost the match in a penalty shoot-out. It was extremely close throughout, but at the end of the day, we were simply unlucky. We always had a lot of respect for USA. They had one player less [following Rachel Buehler 65th minute sending-off], but it didn't make any difference at all," she summarised.
Brazil coach Lima reckoned there was almost nothing between the teams on the day. “Either of the teams could have won it. It was all very evenly matched. There were periods during the game when we were significantly better, but we failed to take our chances. Some of the time, one team dominated possession, and sometimes it was the other. It was never the case that one of the two totally dominated at any stage of the game. Whichever side wins a game like that deserves it, and on this occasion it was USA.
“Naturally, after losing like that at the very end, my players are extremely disappointed and gutted," Lima reported after seeing his players into their dressing room. "They fought hard, they threw their hearts into it, but now they're just devastated. We've tried to console them, but it's not something you can do in just a couple of minutes. It'll need time."
But after the necessary and inevitable period of mourning and sorrow, Brazil will pick themselves up and doubtless be more determined than ever to taste glory at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 in Canada. Their men's side have won the FIFA World Cup™ five times, but a triumph on the global stage four years from now would arguably be even more special for Marta and Co. After all, it would be their first.