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Aug 9, 2012 7:42 PM by CNN

U.S. women beat Japan to claim gold in Olympic soccer final

The United States avenged its defeat in last year's FIFA Women's World Cup final by beating Japan 2-1 to defend its Olympic title at London's Wembley Stadium on Thursday.

In front of 80,203 fans, a record for a women's soccer match at the Games, the U.S. won a fourth Olympic gold in five tournaments thanks to a goal in each half from midfielder Carli Lloyd.

Japan beat Pia Sundhage's team in a dramatic penalty shootout at last year's World Cup in Germany, but the Asian team could only offer Yuki Ogimi's second-half goal in response.

The U.S. got off to a perfect start when Lloyd met striker Alex Morgan's cross with a brave header after eight minutes.
Olympics: American gold medals Olympics: American gold medals
Sports Illustrated: London Olympics Day 12 Sports Illustrated: London Olympics Day 12

The Japanese, guaranteed a historic first women's football medal after beating France in the semifinals, were angered when a penalty wasn't given for a Tobin Heath handball midway through the first half.

Live blog: Olympic final as it happened

After Japan hit the crossbar twice before halftime, Lloyd doubled her tally and the Americans' lead with a stunning solo strike in the 55th minute.

The 30-year-old curled a 20-yard shot into the net following a run which began inside her own half.

Striker Ogimi offered Japan a lifeline when she bundled a shot into the net after U.S. captain Christie Rampone had failed to clear her lines.

Rampone was at fault again when she gifted possession to substitute Mana Iwabuchi, who saw her shot athletically saved by Hope Solo.

Japan pushed to find an equalizer but the U.S. held on. It could have been 3-1, but striker Abby Wambach -- who finished the tournament with five goals -- headed over from a late corner.

Canada, beaten 4-3 by the U.S. in a dramatic semifinal, clinched the bronze medal earlier on Thursday by beating France 1-0 in Coventry.

France dominated large parts of the match, but Canada secured a first medal in this event when midfielder Diana Matheson capitalized on some loose defending to win the match in injury time.

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