Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry; Hampden Park, Glasgow; Millennium Stadium, Cardiff; Old Trafford, Manchester; St James' Park, Newcastle; Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London
Date Started: July 25, 2012
Date Finished: August 9, 2012
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to single-elimination tournament of four teams.
Looking at past Olympic results, the United States looked certain to win the gold, having previously won three out of four competitions, including the two most recent ones, but at recent World Cups, the US had failed to win the title. The 2003 and 2007 World Cup champion Germany failed to qualify for the Olympics, but the most recent winner, Japan, did make the cut. Other favorites included Brazil, arguably featuring the best female player in the world ([Marta]), and France.
The tournament got off to a bad start, as the pool match between North Korea and Colombia was delayed for an hour. The South Korean flag had been displayed next to one of the North Korean players during the team introduction, causing the entire team to march off until the issue was rectified. All favored teams proceed to the quarter-finals, although Japan had failed to impress, drawing 0-0 in two of its matches. Great Britain proved a surprise, winning their group ahead of Brazil, but the hosts were ousted by Canada in the quarter-finals. The US and France also proceeded, while Japan knocked out Brazil, 2-0.
The Japanese women proceeded into the final after a 2-1 victory over France. The other semi was more of a battle. Canada's Christine Sinclair put her team ahead three times, each time seeing the Americans draw level, the third time when [Amy Wambach] converted her penalty given over a disputed handball call. Wambach's goal was her 158th international goal, equalling the record held by former American star Mia Hamm. The two teams had nearly finished the second half of overtime when [Alex Morgan] headed in a cross from Heather O'Reilly, a full four minutes into added time. The Canadians later found redemption by claiming the bronze medal against France.
As in the 2011 World Cup final, the US and Japan were evenly matched. The Americans closed out an opening offensive with a goal from Carli Lloyd after just 8 minutes. The Japanese then came close to scoring, but US goalkeeper Hope Solo, the woodwork and a non-allowed penalty kept them from doing so. A few minutes into the second half, Lloyd fired a long-distance shot to double the advantage. Shortly after, [Yuki Ogimi] finally scored. Solo (save) and [Amy Le Peilbet] (line clearance) then kept the US goal clear, holding on to win the team's fourth gold in five Olympics.