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U.S. Shootout Win Most-Watched Women’s World Cup Since 1999

The shootout victory by the U.S. over Brazil in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals drew the largest big-market audience for a tournament game in 12 years, Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN said.

Yesterday’s game, won by the U.S. 5-3 on penalty kicks after it tied the game in the 122nd minute, was watched in 2.6 percent of homes in the 56 biggest U.S. media markets, ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu said today in an e-mail citing Nielsen Media Research.

The overnight ratings are the highest since the 1999 tournament, hosted and won by the U.S., and the second-highest in network history, Nwulu said. The U.S. team’s 2-0 semifinal victory over Brazil on July 4, 1999, was watched on ESPN by 3.2 percent of U.S. households. Its shootout victory over China in the final drew a 13.3 overnight rating on ABC, according to the Associated Press.

The audience for yesterday’s game also almost doubled that for the Americans’ 3-0 win over Colombia in the group stage on July 2, which drew a 1.4 rating, at the time the most-watched game since 1999, according to an e-mailed release from ESPN.

The U.S. scored on an own-goal by Brazil in the second minute yesterday in Dresden, Germany, and fell behind 2-1 following a pair of goals -- a penalty shot in the 68th minute and an overtime volley -- from forward Marta. U.S. forward Abby Wambach tied the game on a header with one minute remaining in overtime to force the shootout.

The U.S has advanced to the semifinals in all six women’s World Cup tournaments. The team, which won championships in 1991 and 1999, plays France on July 13 for a berth in the final.

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