Rapinoe Double Helps USA Reach The Semi-Finals
A double from Megan Rapinoe helped defending world champions USA book a place in the World Cup semi-finals at the expense of hosts France.
Rapinoe had made headlines before the match after being involved in a twitter spat with President Trump after stating she would decline an invitation to go to the White House, if the USA won the World Cup.
However, Rapinoe made the headlines on the pitch this time thanks to a goal in either half, which helped USA book a semi-final date with England on Tuesday.
USA took the lead after five minutes, as a Rapinoe free kick curled into the net. Then midway through the second half the USA midfielder scored her fifth goal of the tournament tapping home a Tobin Heath cross.
France pulled a goal back with 10 minutes to go thanks to a superb header from Wendie Renard.
Corrine Diacre’s side pushed forward looking for an equalizer to send the game into the extra time. However, they were unable to do so.
It was a disappointing end for the hosts who have now failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in their last four major tournaments.
For the USA, they might not have been at their best but they still managed to become only the second team to win 10 consecutive World Cup matches alongside Norway who managed the feat between 1995 and 1999.
Rapinoe Puts USA Ahead
USA made a bright start. Megan Rapinoe picked up the ball and drove at the French defense.
She passed it to Julie Ertz who unleashed a shot from just outside the box, which went straight at Sarah Bouhaddi in the French goal.
On five minutes, USA took the lead. A free kick was whipped in by Rapinoe. It went through a crowd of legs and went into the net without anyone touching the ball. It was Rapinoe’s fourth goal of the tournament.
Despite, the incredible heat in Paris, the match in the opening stages was being played at a breathtaking tempo.
USA were looking dangerous every time they went forward. Captain Alex Morgan had a shot saved from just outside the penalty box.
Too often France were rushing their passes and were lacking composure in the final third.
USA were looking comfortable but were unable to add to their advantage.
Rapinoe Does It Again
The defending champions almost doubled their lead at the start of the second half.
A shot from outside the box from Sam Mewis was parried away by Sarah Bouhaddi in the French goal. The rebound fell to striker Tobin Heath but Bouhaddi did well to get back up and make the save.
The best chance for France came after 58 minutes. A cross into the box from Kadidiatou Diani eventually found it’s way through to Eugenie Le Sommer. However, the French striker pulled her shot wide when she really should have done better.
Despite, the French having their best period of pressure, USA doubled their advantage after 65 minutes.
A brilliant through pass by Alex Morgan found Tobin Heath. She ran to the byline and cut the ball back into the penalty box.
It found it’s way through to Megan Rapinoe who was in acres of space. She then calmly slotted the ball past Bouhaddi in the French goal.
With 10 minutes to go, Wendie Renard gave France some hope.
A brilliant cross into the box from Gaetane Thiney found Renard who was unmarked. She then bulleted a header past Alyssa Naeher to set up a grandstand finish.
USA were starting to rock, as France poured forward, looking for the goal to take the game to extra time.
However, the French couldn’t find another goal to keep themselves in the tournament.
Overall they lacked cutting edge and composure in the final third. It now means they have failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in their last four major tournaments.
For USA, their hopes of winning back-to-back World Cups for the first time are very much alive.
Next up they face England on Tuesday in what will be another big test for the defending champions.
Written by David Coates
Photo credit to USWMNT via Twitter