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CANADA’S WOMEN FOOTBALLERS were left seething after their Olympic dream ended in an agonising 4-3 extra-time defeat to the United States on Monday.
A superb hat-trick from Christine Sinclair saw Canada take the lead three times only for the reigning Olympic champions to equalise through two Megan Rapinoe goals and a disputed Abby Wambach penalty.
Alex Morgan then pounced in the final minute of extra-time to clinch a dramatic victory that took the Americans into a final against world champions Japan at Wembley on Thursday.
But Canada were fuming over the 80th-minute penalty awarded to the USA which allowed Wambach to score from the spot to make it 3-3.
The penalty was given after an indirect free-kick inside the area from Megan Wapinoe struck Marie-Eve Nault on the arm.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed and upset. We felt that the referee took it away from us, so, yes, we are disappointed,” Canada captain Sinclair said.
“We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”
Sinclair was furious over the awarding of the penalty.
“She (the referee) actually giggled and said nothing. Classy. In an important match it’s a disappointment that the referee had such an impact on it. We feel cheated,” she said.
USA goal hero Morgan meanwhile was ecstatic at the win.
“It was a crazy battle. Coming back and back and back. After we scored they scored, it was amazing,” she said.
“They scored and we scored and you could see the rivalry. They wanted it and we wanted it. It was who was fitter and who was stronger.”
“I’m still in shock thinking of what just happened.”
The game had gone to extra-time after an extraordinary period of 90 minutes which saw Sinclair almost single-handedly take Canada to the brink of the greatest result in their history.
Sinclair had fired Canada ahead with a beautifully engineered first-half goal, collecting a pass from Melissa Tancredi before coolly keeping her composure to bury in the bottom corner.
Rapinoe then levelled for the Americans when her inswinging corner somehow sneaked through a mass of bodies to creep in at the near post early in the second half.
However Canada struck back through the inspirational Sinclair to go 2-1 up after the striker headed home Tancredi’s cross.
But Rapinoe came to the rescue once again on 71 minutes, taking two touches on the edge of the area before unleashing an unstoppable angled shot beyond the dive of Erin McLeod.
Yet parity lasted just two minutes as Sinclair struck again, heading in once more to punish slack American defending at a corner and make it 3-2.
Canada’s lead lasted just seven minutes however as the Americans hit back with Wambach’s penalty 10 minutes from time.
(c) AFP, 2012.