USA comfortably beat the Netherlands to win the Women’s World Cup
Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring her team’s first goal.
The victory secured the USA their fourth World Cup title, with the opening goal in the game coming from a second half penalty which USA captain Megan Rapinoe dispatched, followed by a Rose Lavelle strike that secured a deserved win against a hard working Dutch side.
Coming into the game the USA were clear favourites, entering their third World Cup final in a row, following defeat to Japan in 2011 and victory over the same opponents four years later.
Jill Ellis’s side had won all of their games in the lead up to the final, scoring 24 goals in the process and came up against an unbeaten Netherlands side who needed extra time to get past their semi-final opponents, Sweden.
The players walked out to an incredible atmosphere at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais and the noise maintained throughout the game.
The Netherlands started the game well, keeping the reigning world champions quiet despite allowing their opponents most of the possession.
The opening shot of the match fell the way of Julie Ertz just before the half hour mark, who powerfully struck a volley at goal following a Rapinoe corner, but from just ten yards out the effort was straight at Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, who reacted well to palm the strike away.
The USA were growing in confidence but despite dominating possession they were unable to find a way past the resilient and well drilled Netherlands defence.
Lieke Martens of the Netherlands is challenged by Julie Ertz of the USA.
With just ten minutes to go before half time the USA began to step up their quest for the opening goal of the game, but despite creating two glorious chances, van Veenendaal stood in the way with two reaction stops.
Firstly Sam Mewis’ brave, close range volley was saved instinctually, before the 29-year-old goalkeeper managed to keep out Morgan’s shot from just a couple of yards out, gathering the ball at the second attempt.
The Netherlands were beginning to cling on at the end of the first half and half time certainly couldn’t come quick enough. Morgan managed to create herself a yard of space following Ertz’s attempted through-ball, but the tournament’s top scorer was denied by the brilliant van Veenendaal at her near post once again.
The game had really opened up as half time approached, with the Netherlands trying to catch their opponents on the break as the USA pushed bodies forward, but a few dangerous runs forward were denied by the USA defence.
The Netherlands ended the half on the front foot, with some last ditch defending denying the Dutch a clear opportunity.
The high tempo at the end of the first half was continued at the start of the second period, with the USA on top of both possession and chances. And with 60 minutes on the clock the USA finally had their breakthrough.
The dangerous Alex Morgan made a nuisance of herself in the Dutch penalty area and a high and late challenge from Stefanie van der Gragt certainly caught the striker, but referee Stéphanie Frappart pointed for a corner.
VAR was quick to inform the referee of the clear and obvious error she had made and following a look at the screen situated pitch side, the referee corrected her decision and pointed to the spot.
USA captain Rapinoe stepped up and clinically slotted the ball past a static van Veenendaal, to give the reigning world champions the lead in the 2019 final, and with it, Rapinoe equalled Morgan at the top of the scoring charts for goals and assists.
Trailing by a goal to nil, with just over half an hour left in the game, the Netherlands were forced to go for the game and as they pushed bodies forward, gaps started to open up in the Dutch defence.
Rose Lavelle drove into space and let fly with a well struck effort low into the bottom corner and van Veenendaal had no chance. 2-0 to the USA and no way back for the European champions.
The Netherlands changed formation from 4-4-2 to 3-4-3, but it only increased the number of chances that the USA were able to create. Morgan found herself in space on a couple of occasions, but on both she was smothered by a frustrated van Veenendaal.
Crystal Dunn was the next to break through and test the former Arsenal goalkeeper in the Netherlands goal, but her strike at the near post was beaten away.
Despite a couple of late half chances, the USA were able to see the game out and deservedly lift the World Cup trophy for the second time in a row. The dominant force in women’s football and clearly the best side in this year’s competition, taking the title.