WEMBLEY, England - The U.S. women's soccer team won the Olympic gold medal Thursday, avenging one of its most painful defeats with a 2-1 victory over Japan.

Carli Lloyd scored in the eighth and 54th minutes for the Americans, who lost to the Japanese in penalty kicks at last year's World Cup final.

Photos: USA vs Japan for soccer gold

Yuki Ogimi scored in the 63rd minute for Japan.

The U.S. team has won three consecutive Olympic titles and four of five since women's soccer was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Video: Carli Lloyd's 1st Goal

Video: Carli Lloyd's 2nd Goal

The women's soccer tournament couldn't have asked for a better finale. United States vs. Japan. Rematch of the World Cup final. Wembley Stadium. Quite possibly the largest crowd ever to watch women play the sport at the Olympics.

And an American team flush with passion, bent on mending the heartache from a penalty kick shootout loss to the Japanese in Frankfurt 13 months ago.

I've been hoping for this final, U.S. forward Abby Wambach said before the game, from the moment I stepped off the podium in Germany.

SocialMedia:Golden Match - Top Tweets

The Americans got a hero's welcome for their second-place finish in the World Cup from fans enthralled by the come-from-behind cliffhangers and engaging personalities. Brave faces were in order. The kudos were nice, but coach and players were bummed out. Coach Pia Sundhage went home to Sweden and tuned out soccer completely for a while. Hope Solo went on Dancing With the Stars.

WATCH: U.S. women receive medals, sing anthem

The Americans were still ranked No. 1 and were the two-time defending Olympic champions. They have the deepest, most talented team in the tournament. By contrast, Japan's World Cup triumph was a stunner, as well as a psychological salve for a nation recovering from a triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Complete coverage: London 2012 Olympics

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