MONTREAL - Yet again, Carli Lloyd delivered for the United States in the biggest possible moments Tuesday night. And because of it, her team is headed to the World Cup championship game.
The Delran native scored the go-ahead goal with a penalty kick in the 69th minute, then delivered the victory-sealing assist in the 84th as the Americans trumped No. 1-ranked Germany, 2-0, at Olympic Stadium.
"Germany really tested us and pushed us, but we're delighted to be moving on," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "We knew we had this in us. . . . We had every belief we could win this game, and that's part of the spirit of the American player."
Now they return to Vancouver, site of the group stage-clinching 1-0 win over Nigeria, to face either England or Japan on Sunday. And as Lloyd made clear, she and her teammates are still far from satisfied.
"We didn't just come here to make the final, we came here to win it," Lloyd said. "No one is going to remember a second-place team."
Montreal's grand old concrete dome had the feel of a boxing arena hosting a heavyweight fight, with an overwhelmingly pro-American crowd of 51,175 packing the stands.
Ellis struck the first blow before kickoff, deploying a long-awaited switch to a three-player midfield. Morgan Brian and Lauren Holiday lined up behind Lloyd, with Brian once again assigned a defensive role to help get Lloyd forward.
Germany started quickly, but the American back line - once again led by Julie Johnston - was rarely troubled. At the other end of the field, Johnston and Alex Morgan each forced brilliant saves from German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who is a teammate of Morgan's with the Portland Thorns.
The electric atmosphere turned silent in the 28th minute, when Brian and Germany's Alexandra Popp banged heads going up to contest a German free kick. Popp was left bleeding profusely, while Brian took a while to do anything more than sit up. She was given an on-field concussion assessment - which is more than many other teams have done at this tournament - and was escorted from the field by U.S. team medical staff. Both players ultimately returned to the game.
After the game, Brian said she did not lose consciousness, and Ellis said Brian showed "no symptoms" of a concussion.
Germany found its footing early in the second half and got its breakthrough in the 62d minute after Johnston made her first big mistake of the tournament. She put a hand on Popp's chest as Popp broke into the 18-yard box, and Popp went down. Referee Teodora Albon did not hesitate to award a penalty kick and gave Johnston a yellow card. It could easily have been red.
Up stepped star German striker Celia Sasic, the tournament's top scorer and the top scorer in this past season's UEFA Women's Champions League. Astonishingly, she shot wide left. The crowd nearly blew the roof off.
Five minutes later, the Americans got a penalty kick of their own when Morgan was upended on the edge of the 18-yard box. Replays showed the foul was outside the box, but Lloyd wasn't asking any questions. She stepped up, slammed the ball past Angerer and let out a scream to match all those raining down around her.
In the 84th, the Americans shut the door. Lloyd uncorked a dazzling dribble down the left side of Germany's 18-yard box, then set up substitute Kelley O'Hara for a slam-dunk finish on the goal line. The fans exploded once again, and the celebrations rolled right on through the final whistle.