The Women’s World Cup speaks American again. The U.S. retained the world title conquered four years ago in Canada by topping European Champions Netherlands 2-0 in the Final played on Sunday in Lyon. The USWNT, coached by Jill Ellis, triumphed via a penalty by their influential captain Megan Rapinoe, and a sharp left-foot shot by Rose Lavelle.
The Americans confirmed once again to be the strongest side when it comes to Women football, collecting the fourth star in eight World Cup participations since 1991.
The Dutch Lionesses, on the other hand, didn’t manage to break the curse which has seen the Low Lands country always tripping on the last step when the possibility to clinch a world title comes closer. After their male counterparts losing three World Cup Finals in their history, today it was time for the Oranje girls to see their first attempt to conquer the football world being rejected.
That doesn’t change the positive judgement on coach Sarina Wiegman’s girls, who reached the Final on their second World Cup participation – eliminating on the way Milena Bertolini’s Azzurre, as well as the much more favorite Swedes in the Semifinals. The Leuwinnen won their first European title two years ago, at their third continental participation. The future is on their side.
On Sunday afternoon, however, it took only a few minutes to understand that the match was taking a clear, stars-and-striped direction. Netherlands were crushed by the opponent’s ball possession, but did at least manage to keep the Americans at bay for the full first half – something that both France in the Quarter Finals and England in the Semifinals had failed to do, conceding the first goal to the USWNT in the first quarter of play already.
Still, the 0-0 score at half time was mostly courtesy of Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, who saved her side in at least four situations. Van Veenendaal was helped by the post in occasion of a close-range shot by striker Alex Morgan, but in the 40th minute he did all by her herself – diving to her right to deflect a new dangerous conclusion by Morgan.
The European Champions’ only spark in the initial 45 minutes was a counterattack by forward Lineth Beerensteyn, who was anticipated by the U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher.
U.S.A. cashed in on their predominance 15 minutes into the second half, when Dutch number 3 Stefanie Van der Gragt attempted a clumsy defensive clearance in her box, hitting Alex Morgan with her foot in the process. A quite useless intervention, as the U.S. player had already lost the ball, but that was enough to grab French referee Stéphanie Frappart’s attention.
A VAR check sent Megan Rapinoe on the penalty spot, and the U.S. captain buried it to tally her sixth goal and come up beside teammate Morgan, as well as English striker Ellen White, as top scorer of the competition.
Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle eventually scored the second for her side, concluding a powerful progression into Netherlands’ half with a dribble on dazed Stefanie Van der Gragt, and then a beautiful left-foot shot into the left corner of the net.
The USWNT came close to make it three, with Sari Van Veenendaal raising the wall a few more times, whereas Dutch all-time top scorer Vivianne Miedema was the last to wave white flag among her lines, as he offered a series of dribbling in the U.S. box, and was stopped just before shooting from point-blank range.
Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, and the Golden Ball as the best player. The purple-haired, outspoken U.S. captain had had a Twitter altercation with President Donald Trump in the past weeks.
Rapinoe tweeted that she was not going to go to the White House (the f***ing White House, in her flowery words) if the Team was invited in case they won. Her aversion to the current resident of Pennsylvania Avenue is all but unknown. President Trump replied by urging her to talk less, and snapped back “finish the job!”
Well. Rapinoe did finish the job, and an invitation to the White House for the winning U.S. Team is likely to be made. Things are going to get interesting in the coming days.
July 7, 2019 – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Final
SCORERS: 61′ Rapinoe pen., 69′ Lavelle
|U.S.A. (4-3-3): Naeher; O’Hara (46′ Krieger), Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Lavelle, Ertz, Mewis; Heath (87′ Lloyd), Morgan, Rapinoe (79′ Press) (Harris, Franch, Pugh, Brian, Horan, Davidson, Sonnet, Long, McDonald) Coach: Ellis|
|NETHERLANDS (4-2-3-1): Van Veenendaal; van Lunteren, Dekker (73′ Van de Sanden), Van der Gragt, Bloodworth; Groenen, Spitse; Beerensteyn, Van de Donk, Martens (70′ Roord); Miedema (Kop, Geurtz, Van Dongen, Van Es, Pelova, R. Jansen, Kaagman, E. Jansen, Kerkdijk, Van der Most) Coach: Wiegman|
REFEREE: Frappart (France)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Dahlkemper (U), Spitse, Van der Gragt (N)