Put your hand up if you’ve ever been to a FIFA Women’s World Cup final? Or an Olympic gold medal match for that matter.

You’ll know the buzz, the colour, the anticipation, the drum beats, the heat, and the intense noise that’s generated. Let’s face it, when the US Women’s National Team are involved, you can turn that volume up a few notches.

“We want three!’ they chant before the match. “I believe that we will win,” they cry. And then the anthems are over and it’s “USA USA USA”. There’s no doubt where the majority of this packed house hailed from and there’s no doubt the USA felt they were playing in their own backyard.

You get the feeling that only a handful of Canadians held onto their tickets, and only a few hundred Japanese fans made the trip.

The USA had the dream start. They said set plays would be the difference and the USA had two quick goals back to back through Carli Lloyd lurking in the 6 yard box like a great white shark, devouring the ball and ripping it into the back of the net off of two corners.

Next was Lauren Holiday, latching onto a mistimed defensive header to volley home to make it 3-0. Lloyd put the game to bed, just about, in the 16th minute when she saw Ayumi Kaihori off her line and lobbed her from nearly half way.

Kaihori’s outstretched hand could not deflect it enough and Lloyd became the fastest scorer of a hat trick in Women’s World Cup history, and a national hero.

After 28 minutes, Japan made the most of a rare chance with Yuki Ogimi controlling nicely, turning, and shooting sweetly past an outstretched Hope Solo.

Abby Wambach said she could not believe the first half. “The first fifteen, sixteen minutes seemed surreal, it seemed fake, it seemed like I had literally died. I kept asking Kelly O’Hara, “Am I actually dead? I think I’ve died and this is what my heaven looks like. Seriously, am I alive?”

I was literally asking her because I could not put together what was going on. Carli Lloyd kept scoring goals and we kept getting these chances and they kept going in.”

It was Japan who struck next to breath some oxygen back into the match with Sawa leaping high for a cross that was instead headed firmly by USA fullback Julie Johnston straight past Solo for an own goal.

The comeback was short lived. The USA struck back a minute later in the 54th to make it 5-2, the final scoreline, through Tobin Heath who was on hand to finish off the back of another corner set play.

The final twenty minutes saw Japan chasing the game desperately. Homare Sawa earned herself a yellow card for committing too many bruising tackles, and Japan were taking rushed shots when they did make it into US territory.

On the flipside, with daylight between the teams on the scoreboard if not the pitch, the USA were able to honour two of their veterans. Abby Wambach came into the game with 11 minutes to go and Christie Rampone featured in the final minutes.

The fulltime whistle signalled an almighty roar from the crowd, and a third star emblazoned on US women’s chests. It was a powerful moment for the crowd when Rampone and Wambach stepped onto the stage together and lifted the trophy in a 1-2-3 motion. The game had come full circle for Rampone who had featured in the USA’s last World Cup win.

The heart break for the Nadeshiko was palpable. Tears. Hugs. And the ever present respect for their opposition. In a generous display, the US team performed a guard of honour for the Japanese team to walk through to receive their silver medals.

It was France who won the Fair Play Award at this Womens’ World Cup but one would argue it is the Japanese team who have role modelled exemplary behaviour in their rein as champions and this new crop of World Champions reciprocated in this regard after their win.

Captain Miyama was philosophical about the loss. “We didn’t expect that first fifteen minutes. It was hard and tough but we came back and I think we played well.”

And so, the vast majority of the crowd left happy. Happy and chanting. The internet nearly broke with the amount of traffic created by fans around the world. While many questions remain about the USA’s performances in the group matches, we are left with no doubt that they can perform on the big stage.

No matter how much we scratch our heads in wonder about that first 16 minutes, and whether we were all in fact really there, the evidence is on the scoreboard and in the record books with the USA convincing 5-2 winners over Japan.