Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 16 News List

US retain Women’s World Cup

‘VERY IMPRESSIVE’:Jill Ellis became the first coach to win back-to-back World Cups in the women’s or men’s game since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s

AFP, LYON, France

The US celebrate winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup against the Netherlands at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon, France, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

The US on Sunday retained the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a Megan Rapinoe penalty and a Rose Lavelle strike gave the holders a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final in Lyon, prompting new questions over a potential visit to the White House.

Rapinoe stroked home from the penalty spot to put the US ahead just after the hour mark and end the tournament as joint top scorer on six goals after making headlines for stating she would boycott any team visit to the White House after the tournament.

US coach Jill Ellis remained coy on whether the team would carry out the visit if invited, saying that she “wouldn’t bet” on an invite coming.

However, US President Donald Trump put their spat to one side to congratulate the team, tweeting: “Congratulations to the US Women’s Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!”

There was an air of inevitability about the 34-year-old, the star of this World Cup on and off the pitch, putting the US ahead and it also seemed inevitable that the breakthrough goal should come from a video assistant referee-awarded penalty.

The whippet-like Lavelle, another standout performer over the past month, got the second in the 69th minute, killing off the Netherlands’ hopes of a comeback.

The victory underlines the US’ status as the dominant force in international women’s soccer as they claimed the title for the fourth time in eight editions.

“I don’t even have words, it’s crazy right now. Even just getting to another final, it’s so difficult,” Rapinoe said. “Hopefully, we will continue to reign strong for a number of years.”

Rapinoe ends the tournament with the Golden Ball for the best player ahead of England’s Lucy Bronze and Lavelle, while also winning the Golden Boot as her six goals came from fewer minutes on the pitch than teammate Alex Morgan or England’s Ellen White.

It was a fitting personal triumph for Rapinoe, a key player in the squad’s battle for pay equality which led them to file a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation accusing the organization of gender discrimination.

“Everyone is kind of asking what’s next and what we want to come of all of this, and it’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay,” she said. “What are we going to do about it? It’s time to sit down with everyone and get to work.”

The US were already the first team to appear in three consecutive finals and Ellis became the first coach to win back-to-back World Cups in the men’s or women’s game since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

“Man that’s very impressive. She’ll thank us later,” Rapinoe said.

The US had been the only non-European team to make the quarter-finals, but they had already ended the hopes of the hosts and England before denying the Netherlands a dream double, two years after they won Euro 2017.

“We would have loved to win this final, but we didn’t. Our opponent was better today,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “So we’re second in the world, and I’m very proud of that, and for the team and staff.”

Rapinoe was brought back into the US lineup having sat out the victory over England in the semi-finals due to a hamstring problem. She later went off to a loud ovation from the massed ranks of US fans.

At a tournament which has showcased the improving standards of goalkeeping in women’s soccer, the excellent Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal prevented the US from winning by a greater margin.

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