The way Brazil and sensational striker Marta played, it didn't matter who was in goal for the United States. Marta scored two goals and the Brazilians put on a dazzling display of soccer Thursday, outhustling the Americans at nearly every turn to cruise to a 4-0 victory in the Women's World Cup semifinals.
The Brazilians will play in their first final Sunday against defending champion Germany.
"If you asked me how I do that, I can't explain," Marta said, even after watching TV replays of her goals. "Things happen very quickly during the match, and afterward I start thinking: 'How do I do that?'"
That's what American goalie Hope Solo was asking. Angry she was replaced for the critical game in favor of veteran Briana Scurry, Solo lashed out at U.S. coach Greg Ryan.
"It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that," Solo said. "There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. ... You have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past."
Ryan defended his decision and Scurry, who made her 164th appearance for the United States.
"I don't have any regrets about that," he said. "I think Bri played a great game."
He stressed that he didn't think the switch affected the game.
Ryan might have been right. The Brazilians attacked from the start, and the Americans were unable to keep pace as they saw their 51-match unbeaten streak end with their worst loss in a World Cup match.
The U.S. will play Norway for third place Sunday.
The opening score came on an own-goal in the 20th minute, when American defender Leslie Osborne headed a corner behind Scurry. Lucky or not, the Brazilians were off and running and proved to be better in every facet: clever triangulated passes, counterattacks, audacious moves and blistering shots, the AP reports.
"For me, it is always more important to win the match than to play beautiful football," said Barcellos. "Germany is a very strong team and we need to make plans.
"Now, we are still nothing and we still have a long way to go to beat Germany in the final."
Marta, now the tournament's leading scorer on seven goals, was equally dismissive of individual showmanship, despite displaying plenty against the Americans.
"We are creating history by making the final and that is not down to me, it is down to a great performance by our team," she said.
"My goal is always to be the best and that is why I work so hard, but without my teammates I would be nothing."
The Auriverde are the only side from South America to have appeared at every women's World Cup since its inception in 1991, and Barcellos believes this could be the start of a golden era for Brazilian women.
"We have so many talented players in Brazil," he said. "We still have a lot of young players with great potential."
Their performance here is impressive after they lost a World Cup qualifying game in the lead-up to the tournament for the first time in their history.
In doing so, they also gave away their South American crown to Argentina.
That hit them hard and winning here is also about redressing that balance and repairing their battered pride.
Barcellos said the steely resolve of his players since that defeat has shone through in China, the AFP reports.
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