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Solo major thorn for Marta, Brazil

Women's World Cup

Quarterfinals Semifinal Championship Semifinal Quarterfinals
France 1 (4-3 PK) Australia (D)
7 a.m. today; ESPN

Wednesday; ESPN

2:15 p.m. Wednesday; ESPN
England 1 Sweden (C)
2:45 p.m. July 17; ESPN
U.S. (C) Japan 1 (OT)
11:30 a.m. today; ESPN
Third place: 11:30 a.m. Saturday; ESPN2 Japan
Brazil (D) Germany 0

DRESDEN, Germany — Bent at the waist, her back to the goal, Marta buried her face in her hands. Her left-footed blast from 6 yards looked certain to give Brazil the 2008 Olympic gold medal and their first title at a major tournament. How, Marta asked afterward, did she not score?

Hope Solo, that's how.

Fired up by the goalie's highlight-reel save, the Americans went on to claim their second straight Olympic gold medal.

The Brazil-United States matchup in today's World Cup quarterfinals is their first since that 2008 Olympic final. Brazil seems to have the advantage today. Marta is the world player of the year for five years running. The Americans are coming off a loss to Sweden.

But the Americans, who have never lost before the semifinals in five World Cup appearances, still have Hope.

"Of course she's a great player," Marta said Friday. "But I hope I would have the opportunity to score."

Marta hasn't scored on Solo in international play. Nor have any of her teammates. Solo has started their past four meetings, with the United States winning each 1-0. (Solo was famously benched by then-coach Greg Ryan when Brazil routed the Americans 4-0 in the 2007 World Cup semifinals.)

In that 2008 gold-medal game, Marta made a run down the left in the 72nd minute and shot. Solo leaned forward, thrust up her right arm and smacked the ball away.

Marta and Solo have faced each other since, in the Women's Professional Soccer league.

"There's a rivalry, definitely," Solo said. "We know each other, we respect one another, we've played on All-Star teams together. Yet we don't speak a lot, which is the nature of the mystique of a goalkeeper against one of the top goal scorers in the world."

Saturday's quarters

JAPAN 1, GERMANY 0: Japan knocked out the host and two-time defending champion in Wolfsburg, clinching a stunning victory when substitute Karina Maruyama outran the defense and scored on an angled shot in extra time. Japan then absorbed relentless pressure to hand Germany its first loss in the tournament in a dozen years.

Standout Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa spotted Maruyama's deep run in the 108th minute and passed perfectly. Maruyama slipped a shot past goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to silence the sellout crowd of 26,067.

Japan, in its first World Cup semifinal in six appearances, fulfilled the promise of coach Norio Sasaki, who said Friday, "We will play the Japanese way, and we will be able to win."

FRANCE 1, ENGLAND 1 (4-3 PK): France trailed in regulation and early in the penalty-kick round but rallied in Leverkusen. English captain Faye White missed the decisive kick, hitting the crossbar. French captain Elise Bussaglia forced extra time, scoring in the 88th minute.

Solo major thorn for Marta, Brazil 07/09/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 9, 2011 8:26pm]
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