Wambach’s game-tying goal propels U.S. to penalty kick victory over Brazil in 2011 World Cup

By Adam Silverstein
July 10, 2011

On the brink of the earliest elimination from a World Cup in their country’s history, the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team was saved as former Florida Gators soccer star Abby Wambach directed a sharp header into the net two minutes into injury time during extra time to tie the match 2-2 and force a penalty kick finish.

Leading 1-0 for most of the match after being on the positive end of an own goal by Brazil just minutes into the contest, the USWNT found themselves the victim of atrocious officiating. Following a questionable red card that took USA down to 10 women, Brazil was awarded a penalty kick as the foul occurred inside the box. After missing the try, Brazil was given a second chance after the referee noted that either USWNT goaltender Hope Solo moved off the line prior to the kick (she didn’t) or an American player encroached into the box before the kick.

Brazil took advantage and tied the match 1-1, forcing two 15-minute extra time periods. Marta, the five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, scored quickly for Brazil during the first extra time, putting USA at a distinct disadvantage as the clock was running down.

Failing to connect on attempt after attempt, the USWNT finally found their equalizer as Megan Rapinoe rocketed a cross in to the far post, allowing Wambach to propel herself forward and tie the match by heading the ball home.

Penalty kicks followed with USA making all five of theirs to complete an incredible come-from-behind victory and remain alive in the World Cup. The USWNT will square off against France on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (ESPN) in semifinal action.

Wambach’s teammate, fellow former Florida soccer star Heather Mitts, celebrated USA’s thrilling penalty kick victory with a post-match Gator Chomp:

Wambach’s post-match comments:


  1. jack says:

    wow what a great game by all the girls. way to represent usa and gator country abby

  2. zurbo says:

    i wish wambach chomped right after that goal

  3. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Way to go Abby! Pulling team USA back from the brink of elimination!

  4. John S says:

    Incredible game, Brazil was classless, so it was very satisfying to see them shellshocked. Great job Abby you brought justice to the game.

  5. Joe says:

    Nice header, it was solid and necessary for the win, but the cross was perfection.

  6. SaraGator says:

    Love the Gator Chomp by Heather Mitts!

  7. Timmy T says:

    Sweet, sweet victory. Especially after that “bush league” crap the Brazilians tried to pull.

  8. JW says:

    Great game and awesome to see Abby save the day. Not to get too technical but from what I was reading, and I’m not sure if the official ever explained the call, but I think the call that led to Brazil taking a second penalty kick was encroachment (U.S. player in the box before the penalty was taken), and not Solo coming off the line.

    • It was a top of the box encroachment, yes. Explanation wasn’t provided until later.

      • Malikg says:

        My understanding is that the top of the box explanation was just speculation, especially when you consider that the referee gave the goalkeeper Hope Solo a yellow card as part of the re-kick.

        This is from ESPN’s account:

        “Shortly following the post-match news conferences, soccer’s often bumbling governing body, FIFA, said it was because Solo went forward before the ball was struck. Replays didn’t really support the argument.”

        R. I. Diculous.

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