Brazil has reached the championship game of the Women's World Cup football tournament in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson reports from Hangzhou, where Brazil's 4-0 victory Thursday snapped a 51-game unbeaten streak held by the heavily favored United States.
Most coaches will say there is a risk-taking element in the campaign to win the Women's World Cup. Unfortunately for U.S. coach Greg Ryan, his larger wagers fell short.
Ryan inserted veteran goalkeeper Brianna Scurry for the semifinal in place of Hope Solo. He also made clear before the game he wanted the referee to call early fouls on the hard-hitting Brazilians.
But the South Americans were on the scoreboard first in the 20th minute. U.S. defender Leslie Osborne headed an own goal past Scurry while trying to deflect a Brazilian corner kick. Then from long range in the 27th minute, Marta sent in a shot that caught Scurry off guard.
As for fouls, it was the United States that received four yellow cards. Two of those resulted in the expulsion of midfielder Shannon Boxx near the end of the half, leaving the U.S. women one player short for the rest of the game.
Cristiane added an easy 56th minute score. A 79th minute tap by Marta completed the stunning result. Ryan says he has no regrets.
"I am disappointed for my players because they have put so much into this," he said. "But in terms of me personally, this has never been about me. This has always been about the team doing the best that they can, and me trying to put them in situations where they can be successful. So I feel good about what I have done with this team. And of course we will be second guessed."
Brazil is aiming for its first Women's World Cup title, and is already guaranteed its best finish after placing third in 1999. Brazilian coach Jorge Barcellos says desire has been just as important as talent in reaching the championship game.
"We can say nothing is impossible," he said. "That is what I am always telling to my players. I think that is also part of the reason we had success tonight. So for Brazil, it is a perfect victory, a perfect win today. And I would like to congratulate my players because they have a strong wish, a strong desire to win the match."
Brazil will face defending champion Germany in the final Sunday in Shangahi. The United States and Norway will battle for third place earlier that day.