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Throwback Thursday: Wambach brings the USWNT back from the brink

Her last-minute goal allows the USWNT to advance on penalties in the 2011 Women’s World Cup

Brazil v USA: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 - Quarter Finals Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

It was down to the final moments. The United States Women’s National Team were on the brink of elimination in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, down 2-1 to Brazil deep into extra time stoppage. Finally, the ball is at the feet of Megan Rapinoe on the left side, the team pressing for an equalizer. Rapinoe sends the ball soaring towards the far post of the net from about 35 yards away, and the Brazilian goalkeeper jumps. Only, there’s someone else with her...

It’s considered the greatest goal in the history of the Women’s World Cup. Abby Wambach’s header in the 122nd minute, the latest goal ever in a Women’s World Cup match, allowed the USWNT to tie up the match with Brazil and send it to penalties. The team would go on to win 5-3 in penalties, advancing under the most unlikeliest of circumstances to the semifinals.

The match was billed as one between two heavyweights in the women’s game, as Brazil was one of the favorites to lift the trophy entering the tournament. The United States were also favored, as they usually are. The worst they have done in a Women’s World Cup was 3rd place. Still, one team had to go home while the other kept their hopes of a World Cup title alive.

The scoring started in the 2nd minute, a Daiane own goal that benefitted the Americans. The 1-0 score held until the 65th minute, where Marta was brought down in the box by Rachel Buehler for a penalty. Buehler received a straight red, and Christiane lined up for the penalty take against Hope Solo. Solo saved the shot, but the referee ruled that the United States encroached in the penalty box, ordering that the penalty be retaken. Marta smashed it home to equalize the match at 1-1.

This epic match headed to extra time, where Marta gave Brazil a 2-1 lead in the 92nd minute, and though there were several chances for the U.S. to creep back into it, it seemed hope was lost...until Wambach gave them life. It advanced to penalties

The United States would eventually advance to the 2011 Women’s World Cup final, where they ultimately fell in heartbreaking fashion to Japan in penalties. Still, this quarterfinal match was one that every American soccer fan will remember forever. Relive the highlights of this incredible U.S. victory, as well as the reaction from fans all across the country.