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2011 Women's World Cup: America's Epic Quarterfinal Win One For The Ages

The United States women hadn't lost a game in the group stage of the World Cup - 14 matches total - before they lost to Sweden in the final game of group play after allowing an early goal on a penalty kick and not being able to catch up when the Swedes took a 2-0 lead later in the first half. 

And with goaltender Hope Solo being tended to by trainers before the team's first game of the knockout round against perennial power Brazil, which hadn't lost an international match since 2009 against those pesky Swedes, things didn't look much better. 

So it would've been safe to say that the Americans were looking for a strong start to their quarterfinal round game. 

They got it, in the form of an own goal in the second minute by Brazil's Daiane, who attempted to clear an Abby Wambach pass in front of the net but wound up booting it just inside the right goal post, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead just 74 seconds into the match. 

But 74 seconds is nothing in a 90-minute game, and Brazil's speed was able to wear down the American forwards and midfielders as the game wore on. Throughout the first half, the United States' back line held up strong against the Brazilian attack, but as the second half wore on, Brazil used a combination of speed, footwork and pure power to get into and above the teeth of the U.S. defense. 

Solo - never having allowed the Brazilians to score against her - was strong as the Brazil attack really started to pick up steam around the 60th minute, and the Americans had a chance to counter when Carli Lloyd nearly knocked a header into the left 90, but she just missed the frame and Brazil returned the attack.

It was a matter of time before the Brazilians caught a break, and when Marta worked on a ball near the goalkeeper's box, Rachel Buehler was ruled to have fouled her, getting booked for a red card and leaving the Americans shorthanded. 

But that wasn't all. Brazil was given a penalty kick, which Solo was miraculously able to stop. But that wasn't all, either. 

The official ruled that Solo had moved off the goal line before the kick (although it was later shown that an American may have broken into the goal box prematurely), and Brazil was awarded a second penalty kick, which Marta converted to tie the game in the 68th minute. 

Playing 10-on-11 for the remaining 22 minutes, the United States controlled the play, creating a number of chances in the last five minutes of the half, but not able to cash in on any of them. 

As quickly as the Americans jumped in front in regulation, Brazil caught another break when Marta managed to chip a shot from left of the box over Solo's head and just off the right post and in - it appeared as though a Brazil player was offside in front of the net just before Marta's goal, but it wasn't called and Brazil took a 2-1 lead. 

With the once-neutral fans at the game now cheering decidedly for the Yanks, Brazil managed to hold off the American counter-attack for quite some time. 

The grand finale seemed to be done when Brazil's Erika went down in front of her own net in the 117th minute. She stayed down for an extended period of time, causing the referee to call for a stretcher to take her off, but as soon as the stretcher reached the sideline, Erika got up and ran back to the sideline before re-joining the game. 

She was - fittingly - yellow-carded for her callous efforts, but the card was the least of the concerns, as the official added three minutes of stoppage time to the game, giving the Americans one last breath of hope.

And they wouldn't waste that chance.

Megan Rapinoe lofted a perfect ball near the right corner of the keeper's box with just seconds remaining in the game, and it connected perfectly with Wambach, who headed the ball inside the right post, just past the fingertips of Brazilian keeper Andreia. 

After 120 minutes plus stoppage time, the game was tied at two, and went to penalty kicks, where - in almost anti-climatic fashion - the Americans put every chance into the net. Solo only needed to face four shots, stopping (ironically enough) Daiane on Brazil's third attempt to lighten the load from the U.S.'s shoulders.