BEIJING : A fired up Brazil on Friday set up a World Cup final rematch against Germany for a place in the women’s Olympic gold medal decider while Japan take on defending champions the United States.
A spectacular strike by Daniela and a goal from Marta fired Brazil into the women’s semi-finals as the South Americans overcame 2000 Olympic champions Norway 2-1.
Germany beat Sweden 2-0 after extra time to secure their place in the last four for a repeat of the World Cup final in China last year that the Germans won.
In other matches, the United States struggled past Canada 2-1 in a storm-disrupted marathon in Shanghai that took more than four hours to complete.
And goals from Homare Sawa and Yuki Nagasato blasted Japan into the women’s semis at the expense of arch-rivals China.
Brazil were always on top against Norway and never looked like losing with Daniela making the breakthrough a minute before half-time when she launched a powerful drive from 35 yards that beat goalkeeper Erika Skarbo.
Fleet-footed Marta, often compared to Ronaldinho and called ‘Pele in a skirt’ by the great Brazilian himself, made it 2-0 in the 57th minute before Siri Norby converted a penalty seven minutes from time to give Norway hope.
“If we can continue getting these tough wins then we can win the gold medal,” said a confident Marta, the 2006 World Player of the Year.
“It doesn’t matter if the victories are easy or difficult. The important thing is the gold medal.”
It will be a blockbuster match against Germany with Olympic gold medals missing from both of their trophy cabinets.
Germany have a packed cupboard of silverware including the past two World Cups and four UEFA women’s championships, but they have only two bronze medals from the three Olympic Games where women’s football has been contested.
The United States and Canadian players were forced from the field after 20 minutes in the North American local derby when a spectacular thunder and lightning storm erupted in Shanghai with the United States leading 1-0.
Canada, who have only beaten the United States four times in 44 meetings, equalised soon after play resumed more than 100 minutes later.
With shots going everywhere except into the goal in the slippery conditions, the score remained locked 1-1 until the final whistle forcing the players into extra time where substitute US forward Natasha Kai scored the decider.
“The game was just like a battle to see who’s going to fight to the end,” said Kai. “And like a gamble to see who’s going to win.”
Japan ended any hopes China had of progressing in a one-sided affair.
Homare Sawa gave them the lead on 15 minutes when she rose above Zhang Ying to plant a powerful header in the left hand corner after a deep cross by Aya Miyama.
Yuki Nagasato pounced to seal the match with 10 minutes left, capitalising on China’s failure to clear during a danger moment in the box, latching onto a loose ball and slotting it past the diving keeper. – AFP/de
Channel News Asia