Top 10 moments from Women's World Cup

June, 23, 2011
06/23/11
9:54
AM ET
Nia KuenzerBen Radford/Getty Images Nia Kunzer scored the extra-time winner for Germany against Sweden in the 2003 World Cup final.

We are just days away from the start of the sixth Women's World Cup, which is projected to be the most competitive edition yet. Expect to see some dramatic matches and spectacular efforts to add to the following list. Here is a look at the 10 most memorable moments in the competition's history.

10. Brazil wins thriller in quarterfinals versus Nigeria (1999)

The Brazilians arrived on the scene as a force in women's soccer in the 1999 World Cup, as Brazil's then-No. 10, Sissi, scored seven goals and proved herself to be as good a set-piece artist as the women's game has seen. In its quarterfinal bout with Nigeria, Brazil led 3-0 at the break but conceded three goals in the second half, needing Sissi to score the first golden goal* in Women's World Cup history for a 4-3 win.

9. Germany's golden goal beats Sweden to win first World Cup (2003)

Germany's Nia Kunzer is the only player to score a Women's World Cup-winning golden goal, as her 98th-minute tally gave Germany the first of its two consecutive World Cup titles.

8. Cristiane's goal ends Australia's upset bid (2007)

Brazil steamrolled through the group stage and appeared ready to do the same in its quarterfinal meeting with Australia. The Samba Queens were up 2-0 just 23 minutes into the game, but Australia battled back with goals from Lisa De Vanna and Lauren Colthorpe to even things up in the 68th minute. Seven minutes later, Brazilian forward Cristiane unleashed a skillful, unsavable 20-yard screamer to the upper-right corner of the net. Brazil won the match 3-2.

7. Norway beats the U.S. (1995)

Norway's World Cup semifinal win over the United States is memorable more for the moments after it ended than anything that happened during the game. After a 1-0 win to oust the U.S. from the second Women's World Cup, Norwegian players linked up in centipede formation, crawling around the field celebrating. It stuck forever in the minds of American players on the field that day and helped fuel the best rivalry of women's soccer's early history.

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U.S. Celebration
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty ImagesJoy Fawcett jumps for joy with her U.S. teammates after scoring the winning goal against Germany in the quarterfinals of the 1999 Women's World Cup.

6. Chastain, Fawcett rescue the U.S. against Germany (1999)

Only four times in World Cup history has the team trailing at halftime come back to win a game, and the U.S. became one of those teams after trailing 2-1 at halftime of its quarterfinal against Germany in 1999. Brandi Chastain's own goal and a strike from Bettina Wiegmann had the Americans down at the half, but Chastain redeemed herself to even the score shortly after the break. Joy Fawcett headed in the game winner in the 66th minute off a corner kick from second-half sub Shannon MacMillan, who took the corner kick immediately after entering the match.

5. Germany scores two late goals, ends U.S.'s golden era (2003)

In the waning moments of the 2003 semifinal against Germany, the U.S. trailed 1-0 and needed to push everyone forward to avoid elimination. Germany capitalized on the counter attacks with two near mirror-image goals from Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz in stoppage time. It was the last World Cup for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett.

4. Angerer shuts out Brazil (2007)

In a final that pitted Germany's staunch defense against Brazil's brilliant offense, German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer kept a clean sheet, her sixth of the tournament, preventing Marta & Co. from scoring for the first time in the tournament. Angerer's best moment came in the 67th minute, when she made a diving save off a Rosana free kick, just five minutes after stopping a Marta penalty kick.

3. Lilly's header saves the U.S. (1999)

In sudden-death overtime, China's Fan Yunjie headed the ball past keeper Brianna Scurry, and for a moment, the World Cup dream was over for the U.S. But Kristine Lilly calmly jumped up to head the ball off the line, and the Americans survived to win in penalty kicks, which we'll visit later in this list.

MartaFrederick Brown/AFP/Getty ImagesMarta's brilliant second goal against the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup.

2. Marta's brilliant goal ices the U.S. (2007)

In the 79th minute of Brazil's semifinal against the U.S., Marta found herself with her back to goal just outside the corner of the penalty box. In one quick motion, she flicked the ball behind her and raced around defender Tina Ellertson. She pulled out of a jersey tug, faked out Cat Whitehill in the penalty box and blasted a shot past goalkeeper Briana Scurry to put her team up 4-0. Marta's stellar effort -- the best goal in the history of the tournament -- was the capper on one of the greatest individual efforts in World Cup history. The U.S. had no answer for her all match as she scored two goals to advance to finals.

1. Chastain's penalty kick wins the World Cup for the United States (1999)

Brandi Chastain's winning penalty kick in the final against China is easily the most memorable moment in tournament history. The kick itself, the sports-bra celebration and 90,145 fans in attendance all make this moment the clear-cut No. 1.


* In the 1995, 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups, goals in extra time (or golden goals) ended knockout matches.

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