United States wrap up another Women’s World Cup
Defending champions beat Holland in Lyon to make sure of successful defence.
The United States won the Women’s World Cup for a fourth time, beating Holland 2-0 in Lyon.
After being thwarted by a series of excellent Sari Van Veenendaal saves in the first half, the US took the lead in the 61st minute when Megan Rapinoe coolly converted a penalty awarded via VAR.
Rose Lavelle doubled the lead eight minutes later as the holders made sure of a successful defence of the title.
They become the second team to win the competition twice in a row, matching the feat of 2003 and 2007 champions Germany.
Both US successes have been achieved under the management of Jill Ellis, who was born in England.
Rapinoe’s spot-kick saw her finish alongside team-mate Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White as the tournament’s joint top-scorer with six goals.
Rapinoe took the Golden Boot, though, with ties settled by assists and then minutes per goal. Rapinoe and Morgan both had three assists to White’s none, but the former’s goals came in the fewest minutes.
And her superb tournament was recognised as she was also awarded the Golden Ball for its best player, with England’s Lucy Bronze winning the Silver Ball.
As expected, Rapinoe returned to the starting line-up after recovering from the hamstring issue which saw her sit out the 2-1 semi-final win against England, replacing Christen Press.
Lieke Martens was fit to retain her place for European champions Holland after coming off at half-time in their 1-0 extra-time win over Sweden.
The United States were unable to maintain their record of scoring by the 12th minute of every match in their campaign.
Van Veenendaal claimed a Lavelle cross then made a smart stop in the 27th minute as she pushed away a volley from Julie Ertz.
Morgan subsequently went down in the box having felt contact from Dominique Bloodworth and American fans appealed for a penalty – but referee Stephanie Frappart gave a corner instead.
Van Veenendaal then produced three excellent stops in quick succession as the defending champions stepped things up. First she kept out a Sam Mewis header, then diverted a Morgan effort against the post with her foot. Moments later she denied Morgan again, diving to turn her strike behind for a corner.
Holland enjoyed a brief spell of pressure just before the break, but it amounted to nothing.
The US were back on the front foot after the interval and around the hour mark Morgan went down in the area again after Stefanie Van Der Gragt made a high-footed challenge.
Frappart once again signalled for a corner, but VAR then intervened and having watched back footage pitchside, the official pointed to the spot.
Rapinoe subsequently produced a composed finish from 12 yards to go level with Morgan and White.
Lavelle then made it 2-0 as she burst forward and fired past Van Veenendaal from the edge of the box.
The US looked set to score again shortly after as Rapinoe fed Tobin Heath but she took too long before shooting, before Van Veenendaal dealt with efforts from Morgan and Crystal Dunn.
With time running out, Holland pushed forward and Lineth Beerensteyn brought a comfortable save out of Alyssa Naeher, before Sherida Spitse’s well-struck free-kick curled just wide.
Morgan then went for goal again in added time, firing wide from outside the box – and soon after the United States could start the celebrations.