The United States Soccer Federation’s website had one word to describe their national team’s semi-final against Brazil at the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007™: “nightmare”. And the main cause of their pain was none other than Marta. Aged 21 at the time, the Brazilian star turned on the style in her side’s 4-0 win, scoring twice and producing a stunning display of her dribbling ability, creativity, power and all-round skills.
“My happiest memory of the Women’s World Cup is 2007, when we beat USA in the semi-final,” Marta herself told FIFA.com. “We played really well that day and it was very important for Brazil. We controlled the match from the start and we dictated the play throughout.”
The Brazilian forward, who now plays for Swedish club Rosengard, added: “We were up against a major rival and the adrenaline was really pumping for us because we wanted to make our first World Cup Final. It was a very exciting and historic match.”
Brazil dominated from the kick-off and took the lead courtesy of Leslie Osborne’s own goal, with Marta’s brace sandwiching a Cristiane strike.
I scored what I think is the best goal of my career that day, and I remember it like it were yesterday.
Recalling Marta’s stunning performance that night, USA midfielder Carli Lloyd said: “She turned the stadium on its head. I’ve always been a great admirer of hers. She’s a phenomenal player. I think she’s the best in the world when it comes to ability, presence and control.”
That 4-0 loss was the Stars and Stripes' first defeat in normal time in 51 matches and the first of Greg Ryan’s tenure as coach. It also remains the heaviest defeat in their history.
Marta did as much as she pleased for 90 minutes, as if she were enjoying a kick-about in the school playground. Her first goal came when she dispossessed an American defender on the right, cut inside and let fly from the edge of the box with a low left-footed shot. Her second was simply stunning, and involved some magical footwork that left USA defender Tina Ellertson clutching at thin air.
“I scored what I think is the best goal of my career that day, and I remember it like it were yesterday,” said Marta of that second goal. It saw her cut in from the left this time, take out one defender with a cute flick, send the unsuspecting Ellertson one way and then the next with a samba-style swerve of the hips, and end her slaloming run with a right-footed drive into the back of the net.
“That wasn’t just my best game as a player; I think it was Brazil’s best performance in the World Cup,” she added. There was a downside, though, as she explained: “The only thing was, we went and lost the final to Germany.” That story can be left for another day, however.