MANCHESTER, England — The U.S. women's football team reached the Olympic gold medal match after forward Alex Morgan's dramatic winner in the final moments of extra time Monday at Old Trafford.
The 4-3 come-from-behind victory set up the championship match Thursday at Wembley Stadium against Japan, who beat the Americans at the 2011 World Cup.
A hat trick from Canada captain Christine Sinclair wasn't enough to see off the Americans.
Morgan scored from a close-range header after a cross from Heather O'Reilly that looped over Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod and into the net. Megan Rapinoe scored twice and the other American goal was supplied by Abby Wambach.
Next comes the game the U.S. players have been eyeing for more than a year, a rematch with Japan with gold on the line. The top-ranked Americans lost to Japan on penalty kicks in the World Cup final last summer, a stunning blow that became a source of motivation as the players prepared for the London Games.
The U.S. team has played in the title match in every Summer Games since women's football was introduced in Atlanta in 1996, winning the gold in 1996, 2004 and 2008 and the silver in 2000.
The Americans advanced by continuing its dominance of the neighbor to the north, extending its unbeaten streak against Canada to 27 games, with the last loss coming at the Algarve Cup in 2001.
But it wasn't easy. Sinclair was an imposing force, scoring in the 22nd, 67th and 73rd minutes. The Canadian now has 143 international goals, putting her even with Wambach for No. 2 on the all-time list. They are both chasing Mia Hamm's world record of 158.
Rapinoe scored in the 54th and 70th minutes, and Wambach in the 80th for the U.S. before Morgan's winner.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP