BEIJING The United States retained the Olympic women's soccer title on Thursday with a 1-0 extra-time win over hapless Brazil, who fell at the last hurdle for the third major competition in a row.
Carli Lloyd rifled the gold medal winner with a low shot from the edge of the area six minutes into extra-time after the South Americans had dominated most of the game.
The Brazilians were also runners-up to the United States in Athens four years ago and lost to Germany in last year's World Cup final.
World Player of the Year Marta, who played in all three finals and missed a penalty against Germany, hit the post in the second half.
"When I was six years old, I thought I was the only girl who played football and I had to play with boys," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage.
"I could never imagine being a professional player or coach. I am so proud," said the Swede.
Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos was left to pick up the pieces after another huge disappointment.
"We were really confident that we would win this game but football is complicated," he said. "We had the game in our hands. We were creating chances until the very last minute."
Marta, often too individualistic, produced plenty of mazy runs but was repeatedly shut out by the U.S. rearguard.
Brazil forward Cristiane, leading scorer with five goals, had the best first-half chance when she broke clear of the defence but Hope Solo rushed out of her goal to block the danger.
In the 72nd minute, Marta scuttled into the penalty area, forced her way between two defenders but saw her shot hit the post.
The United States barely threatened until a late second half flurry.
Brazil goalkeeper Barbara had to punch a corner out from under her goal, then stretched to stop a low Angela Hucles shot in the 86th minute.
In the 90th minute, Amy Rodriguez broke clear but squandered her chance with an attempted chip which Barbara saved.
Lloyd was denied a second when she hit the post in the 115th minute while Marta floated a free kick narrowly wide at the other end.
Brazil had three good chances in the last minute but missed them all.