Olympic women's football: Team of the tournament

 

Defending champions the United States won their fourth title, narrowly seeing off World Cup winners Japan in front of an Olympic record 80,203 people, to bring down the curtain on an enthralling women's competition at London 2012.

The USA's win followed their even more thrilling extra-time semi-final win over North American rivals Canada, while Great Britain - vanquished by Canada in the quarter-finals - had their own night of glory when they beat Brazil in front 70,584 people, at Wembley.

So who were the individual stars of the Games? BBC commentator Jacqui Oatley assembles her first-choice XI.

GOALKEEPER:

HOPE SOLO, UNITED STATES

Hope Solo

A colourful, controversial character with more than 610,000 followers on Twitter,  Solo just edges out Japan's Miho Fukumoto due to her outstanding display in denying the Japanese an Olympic title to add to their world title. Solo told me afterwards that she'd "proved a point to a lot of people", not least to the critics of female goalkeepers.

RIGHT-BACK:

RIA PERCIVAL, NEW ZEALAND

Ria Percival

The Essex-born right back who plays professionally for Frankfurt played in all four games for the Football Ferns and shone, along with fellow over-lapping full back Ali Riley. Kept the mighty Marta quiet in their narrow defeat by Brazil.

CENTRE-HALF and CAPTAIN:

CHRISTIE RAMPONE, UNITED STATES

Christie Rampone

Demands inclusion because she's such an inspiration. Age 37, she suffers from debilitating Lyme disease yet has just won her third gold medal in her fourth successive Olympic final and had two children along the way. She told me after the final that she may well continue until the 2015 World Cup in Canada (when she'll be 40) but no more Olympics.

CENTRE-HALF:

AZUSA IWASHIMIZU, JAPAN

Azusa Iwashimizu

Singled out by Japan coach Norio Sasaki for her outstanding performances, particularly against the talented Lotta Schelin of Sweden, Iwashimizu has been fantastic in central defence alongside Saki Kumagai. She was also a key figure in Japan's World Cup victory last summer.

LEFT-BACK:

STEPH HOUGHTON, GREAT BRITAIN

Steph Houghton

Houghton emerged as a real shining light during the Games for Hope Powell's team, slotting in at left-back and scoring in each of Britain's first three games, which brought three victories and three clean sheets. A very likeable character, she's remained down to earth despite overnight success that saw her face splashed all over the front and back pages of national newspapers.

MIDFIELD:

MEGAN RAPINOE, UNITED STATES

Megan Rapinoe

A top-quality, creative player who would be a key player in any side in the world. Scored twice in that thrilling semi-final against Canada, including a stunning strike from the edge of the box. Ended the Games with three goals.

MIDFIELD:

DESIREE SCOTT, CANADA

Desiree Scott

Nicknamed "The Destroyer" for her ability to break up the opposition's attacking play, Scott had an outstanding tournament with her box-to-box energy. She's a brave lass too - we all winced as her leg bent the wrong way under a heavy USA challenge, but the 5ft 3in powerhouse wiped away a tear or two and carried on.

MIDFIELD:

CARLI LLOYD, UNITED STATES

Carli Lloyd

The match-winner in the Beijing 2008 Olympic final, Lloyd had a point to prove after starting this tournament on the bench. She was called up early after Shannon Boxx was injured against France and went on to score in that game, as well as the next one against Colombia and two in the final. Point proved.

FORWARD:

ALEX MORGAN, UNITED STATES

Alex Morgan

I was tempted to include Melissa Tancredi after her four goals for Canada but her stamp on Carli Lloyd's head put me off the idea. Instead, here's the bright young star of the women's game. Morgan has only just turned 23 yet has already added so much to her game to supplement her lightning speed. Her willingness to chase lost causes and close down opposing defenders takes the pressure off strike partner Abby Wambach.

FORWARD:

ABBY WAMBACH, UNITED STATES

Abby Wambach

The tournament's second highest scorer with five, she managed a goal in every match bar the final to take her tally to an extraordinary 143 international goals in 188 matches. She and Christine Sinclair of Canada are now just 15 short the great Mia Hamm's world record of 158 international goals.

FORWARD:

CHRISTINE SINCLAIR, CANADA

Christine Sinclair

The tournament's six-goal top scorer - an Olympic record - Sinclair was already well known in the women's game before this tournament, but her hat-trick at Old Trafford to give her side the lead three times against defending champions the USA in that thrilling semi-final elevated her status even further. Her outstanding centre forward display also prompted glowing reviews on Twitter from well-known names in the men's game.