Sport

USA beat Netherlands to retain World Cup

USA beat Netherlands to retain World Cup
  • The Netherlands, in the final for the first time in their history, had done well to frustrate the USA for long periods before they finally made the breakthrough, with goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal making a string of fine saves in the first half.
  • Van Veenendaal also prevented the USA from winning by a bigger margin as she denied Morgan and Crystal Dunn late on.

The United States won the Women's World Cup for a record fourth time with as they eventually overpowered the Netherlands in Lyon.

Megan Rapinoe's penalty and Rose Lavelle's fine run and finish gave the defending champions victory in the second half, after resilient first-half defending from the Dutch.

Veteran winger Rapinoe's calmly-slotted opener came from a spot-kick awarded after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, at the end of a tournament in which the system has been a major talking point.

Barcelona defender Stefanie van der Gragt's high boot caught USA striker Alex Morgan and French referee Stephanie Frappart pointed to the spot after assessing replays, and the holders did not look back after taking the lead.

The European champions, reaching the final in only their second World Cup, kept the favourites at bay in the first half as former Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal produced four excellent saves.

But the USA, playing in their third consecutive final, continued their reign as the world's finest side as they added to their titles of 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Rapinoe's goal also meant she won the Golden Boot after finishing with six goals and three assists.

Peerless USA's dominance continues

Victory for the USA saw their English boss Jill Ellis, from Hampshire, become the first coach to lift the trophy twice.

Her side's second consecutive world title was a hard-fought one, but they have been the best side in a 24-team tournament that was fiercely contested, scoring 26 goals - a record for the tournament - despite facing more serious trophy contenders than four years ago.

They laid down a daunting marker in their first match of the competition as they cruised to a 13-0 win over Thailand - the biggest-ever victory at the finals.

Comfortable successes over Chile and Sweden followed, before they faced three much more detailed tests of their title credentials in the knockout rounds but battled to a trio of 2-1 wins over Spain, hosts France and England.

In 2015's final in Canada, the USA took a 4-0 lead over Japan inside 16 minutes, as a Carli Lloyd hat-trick helped them win 5-2, but the Dutch posed a far stiffer test.

Sarina Wiegman's side, who beat Sweden in the last four on Wednesday, did well to absorb pressure from the USA in the first half and counter attack with pace when they could.

However, the Oranje created very few clear chances over the 90 minutes and winger Tobin Heath spurned multiple opportunities to extend the USA's lead late on.