HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Brazil shocked the top-ranked United States 4-0 Thursday in a dazzling display that set up a World Cup final with defending champions Germany.
On a horror night for the Americans at the Hangzhou Dragon Stadium, Leslie Osborne gifted the South Americans the lead with an own goal after 20 minutes and superstar Marta got the second seven minutes later.
Cristiane bagged the third on 56 minutes and in a magical moment 2006 World Player of the Year Marta flicked the ball with the outside of her boot past a defender before drilling home for the fourth with 13 minutes left.
Compounding the US misery, experienced midfielder Shannon Boxx was sent off just before half-time, effectively ending American hopes of getting their hands on the trophy for the third time.
"For me, nothing is impossible in football and that is what I told the girls tonight," said Brazilian coach Jorge Barcellos.
"It was the perfect win. My players wanted it so much. They were aggressive and determined and that made the difference. It was a team effort."
The Samba Girls have been the surprise of the tournament, winning an army of fans with their attractive football, and now face their maiden final in Shanghai on Sunday against a German side that has yet to concede a goal.
The US, whose two-and-a-half year, 51-game unbeaten streak was ended, must now lift for a third-place play-off against Norway following their heaviest ever World Cup defeat.
"We were always chasing," admitted US coach Greg Ryan.
"Brazil played with great skill and it was very difficult for us. Going a goal down and then being reduced to 10 men was always going to make it hard."
In a physical game in front of 47,000 fans, the Americans came out firing with Lori Chalupny forcing Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia into a diving save after just 15 seconds.
Brazil though soon found their feet and were aggrieved after a penalty decision went against them four minutes later.
Cristiane broke from the left and was hacked down by Cat Whitehill in the box but Swiss referee Nicole Petignat saw nothing amiss. Television replays clearly showed a foul.
Undeterred, Brazil got the breakthrough thanks to a comical own goal by Osborne.
Formiga swung in a corner that was destined for the arms of Briana Scurry, chosen ahead of usual goalkeeper Hope Solo, until Osborne darted in front of her to head into the net in a terrible miscommunication.
The Americans were rattled and Marta rammed home the advantage seven minutes later, dribbling into the box to unleash a hard and low drive with her trademark left foot that Scurry should have saved.
The US nerves were jangling and Brazil piled on the pressure, going close several times, and it went from bad to worse when Boxx got her marching orders for a second yellow card.
Brazil swarmed all over the US in the second period with Daniela and Maycon both whistling shots narrowly wide.
It was only a matter of time before the third goal and Cristiane obliged, coolly slotting home after being set free by Formiga.
Marta, who was taunting the Americans, sparked huge cheers with some stunning individual skill to hammer the final nail in the US coffin with the fourth goal on 79 minutes.
The strike was her seventh, making her the tournament's leading scorer, and took her tally to a remarkable 47 in the last 45 matches.
|7||S. Boxx||14' 45+1'|
|Coach: G. Ryan|
for S. Cox 46'
for H. O'Reilly 60'
for K. Markgraf 74'
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