The Most Surprising Women’s Soccer Matches of All Time

As the women’s game grows in popularity, we take a look at some of the sport’s most exciting matches.

USA 4 V 3 Canada, London Olympics 2012

Perhaps the most spectacular match in women’s football yet, the Olympic semi-final of the London Olympic games in 2012 saw USA steal their neighbour’s gold medal chance in the last kick of the match. The venue was Old Trafford in Manchester and is probably the best game ever played, in which Canada lost 4-3 after extra time after Canada had gone in 0-1 ahead at half time. Around ten minutes after the restart, an intense period of play took place that began when Megan Rapinoe levelled for the Americans, before Canada again went ahead and the USA once again responding to make it 2-2. Just minutes later, Canada thought that they had scored the winner and booked their place in the Wembley final but then, around the 78th minute, a free kick was awarded to Team America that changed the game. The free kick was taken by Rapinoe which struck the arm of a Canadian and, from the resulting penalty, USA equalised for a third time taking the game into extra time. Then, in a cruel twist of Canadian fate, Alex Morgan headed in America’s winning goal in the 123rd minute, three minutes over the allotted 120.

Japan V England, FIFA World Cup Semi Final, 2015

England WNT
In another semi-final match, this time in the 2015 Canada World Cup, England were knocked out in heart breaking fashion as an injury-time own goal from Laura Bassett put the defending champions, Japan, into that year’s final. It would have been the Lionesses’ first World Cup final and only England’s second following the men’s victory in 1966. They looked good for the win too for the most part and you would have put money on England making the final, due to be played in Vancouver. However, with football, nothing is certain and the game never fails to surprise. But, as the game entered a second minute of stoppage time at 1-1, having taken the lead from a Fara Williams’ penalty which had been levelled by an excellent free kick from Aya Miyama, football played one of its typically cruel twists. As a Japanese cross drifted over goalkeeper Karen Bardsley’s head, Bassett diverted the ball towards the England goal, and could only agonisingly look on as the ball hit the crossbar and painfully fell over the line. For Japan, their luck expired that afternoon as they met the USA in the final who ran riot over them in a 5-2 win.
Just in those first two matches listed above, we can see why sports betting is booming right now. Of course, in this day and age, all online bookmakers and casinos also provide mobile sites that make winning real money on mobile phones even easier.

USA 2 V 0 Germany, FIFA World Cup, 2015

In the other semi-final of the same Canadian World Cup, eventual tournament winners USA went through in just as surprising, if less dramatic, circumstances. It’s true, while other games (see above) are far more dramatic, this match between the United States and Germany is officially ranked as the greatest Women’s World Cup game of all time, according to statistics drawn up by Women’s Soccer Power Index (WSPI), who scored the match an average WSPI rating of 95.5. This is by far the largest average WSPI of any two teams to ever meet in a World Cup but the reason it was surprising is that Germany were supposed to be the bookies’ nailed-on favourites. And yet, proving that the bookies can be beaten, USA were utterly dominant and fiercely clinical, wasting next to nothing en route to the final where, as mentioned above, they would push Japan aside with ease, taking the title south of the Canadian border. It took a missed Germany penalty to keep the scores even before, 10 minutes later, the USA team were awarded a spot kick of their own. USA captain Carli Lloyd took a better penalty than German Celia Sasic, as the USA scored the first of their two in a 2-0 win which was completed by Kelley O’Hara with a late volley.

USA 2 V 1 Norway, FIFA World Cup, 1991

The first Women’s World Cup took place in China back in 1991, when not many people cared for the game. Technically, it was called at the time the FIFA Women’s World Championship for the M&M’s Cup, named after the chocolates that sponsored the event. It was also largely played behind closed doors near the old Silk Route, with all broadcasting rights going to Chinese state TV and, with no internet, nobody was watching. At the time, FIFA were still not taking the women’s game seriously and, it seems, couldn’t be bothered to promote it properly, beyond monetising it slightly with M&Ms. No one told Team America, however, as they played like a team on a mission, blitzing through their group, playing three games and scoring 15 without return. A Carin Jennings hat trick in the semis helped them on the way to a 5-2 win over Germany, before they made history in the final against Norway. In the final, Akers scored in the 20th minute before the Norwegians equalised in the second half. With 20 minutes remaining, Akers pounced for the winner and instantly transformed the sport. I’ve listed is as surprising because it was the inaugural event and no one knew quite what to expect. As it was, a legacy of great sporting achievement for the USA was established as well as the small seeds that have blossomed into the modern-day game we all love today.

  1. Harry 4 years ago

    Great matches and great memories! Amazing to think how far women’s football has come since China 1991. Also I would add

    Tyreso – Wolfsburg, UEFA Champions League Final 2014
    Japan – Germany, FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal 2011
    Brazil – United States, FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal 2011
    Japan – United States, FIFA World Cup Final 2011
    United States – Germany, FIFA World Cup Semifinal 2003
    Rosengard – Wolfsburg, UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal 2015
    Lyon – Turbine Potsdam, UEFA Champions League Semifinal 2012

    And a left-field choice
    Vietnam – Thailand, AFC World Cup Playoff (Canada 2015)

    Hopefully some more great matches in the near future!

  2. Michael Scoates 4 years ago

    I think Carli Lloyd’s WWC Final 2015 fastest hat trick will always be in my memories, as will Alessia Russo’s 94th minute equaliser vs current U17 World Champions North Korea this year, both amazing games.

    Stand out for me in recent years was England v Germany World Cup 2015 3rd place playoff – I could watch that heroic match over and over. Only 1-0 but includes Fara Williams’ penalty and Steph Houghton’s overhead goal line clearance.

    Now that I follow teams all over the world in lots of different leagues there never seems to be a match that ISN’T exciting, touches of magic and world class passes abound in the Women’s game, long may it continue.

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