USA clip England in W’Cup thriller
LYON, France (AP):
Alex Morgan celebrated her go-ahead goal with a cheeky tea-sipping motion and Alyssa Naeher stopped a late penalty kick to send the United States (US) into the final at the Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over England yesterday.
The top-ranked US will face the winners of today’s semi-final between the Netherlands and Sweden in the Americans’ third straight appearance in the World Cup title match.
Christen Press – who started with Megan Rapinoe out with a hamstring injury – put the US up early in the match, but Ellen White’s goal tied it before 20 minutes had passed. Morgan’s sixth goal of the tournament came before the break, and on her 30th birthday. She hadn’t had a goal since she scored five in the team’s 13-0 rout of Thailand to open the tournament.
“I think we’ve put so much into this journey together – and now we have one more game to close it out,” Morgan said.
White’s goal was also her sixth, but Morgan has the edge for the tournament’s Golden Boot with three assists. White appeared to score her seventh in the 69th minute, but video review determined she was offside – and the Americans in the crowd of 53,512 at Stade de Lyon roared.
A video review went against the US late in the game when it determined that Becky Sauerbrunn had fouled White in the penalty area. England captain Steph Houghton’s penalty shot was smothered by a diving Naeher in the 84th minute.
It was the first penalty kick saved by a US goalkeeper in regular time at the World Cup. At the final whistle, the team mobbed Naeher in front of the goal in celebration.
The mild-mannered goalkeeper was asked afterwards if it was the biggest save of her life. “Probably up there, yeah,” she said, smiling.
The top-ranked Americans have been to the semi-finals of all eight World Cups, and they’ve won the trophy three times, more than any other nation. The US team’s lone loss in a World Cup title match came to Japan in 2011.
Third-ranked England went through to the semi-finals in 2015 but fell to Japan before beating Germany in the third-place match for the Lionesses’ best finish in the tournament.
“No words that I can say tonight will make them feel any better,” England coach Phil Neville said.
The US have won 11 straight World Cup matches and are undefeated in their last 16. With the quarter-final victory in France, the Americans tied Norway’s record winning streak set over the 1995 and 1999 tournaments.
The Americans have exuded confidence since arriving in France. After pouncing on Thailand 13-0 in the opener and celebrating each goal in the rout, they beat nemeses Sweden, the team that ousted the US in the quarter-finals at the 2016 Olympics. And Rapinoe struck a victorious pose in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over France on Friday night in Paris.
England had shut out their last four opponents, but the US attacked early, as expected – the Americans have scored within the first 15 minutes of all of their games in France.
Press delivered first, scoring on a header off a long cross from Kelley O’Hara that sailed over Telford’s outstretched arm. It was Press’ first goal in France and her second World Cup goal overall.
Shortly thereafter, Beth Mead served the ball to White, who got between the US centre backs for the finish to pull England even. White raised her hands to her face for her customary ‘glasses’ celebration.
The US pulled ahead when Lindsey Horan found Morgan in front of the net for the header. It was Morgan’s 107th international goal, moving her into a tie for fifth on the US career list with Michelle Akers.