Women’s World Cup: Peerless USA on Top of the World – Again!
USA 2-0 Netherlands
She’s outspoken, she doesn’t mince her words and has probably gone over the top with some of her past and plainly inaccurate criticism (in this SBOBET’s writers view).
However, one thing that can’t be taken away from United States captain Megan Rapinoe is her determination and winning mentality.
After her penalty kick confirmed her nation as world champions again, perhaps her belief that women’s football does not get enough respect from FIFA will carry greater weight.
Certainly, after much fanfare in the past month, this Women’s World Cup Final was far from just another game.
Highlights of the game
That was evident from the outset as the World (USA) and European champions (Netherlands) went for the jugular.
The Women’s World Cup betting odds always made the USA favourites to retain the crown they won in Canada four years ago.
Yet Netherlands, and European sides, have generally shown in this World Cup that they are catching up, as traditional powers in the men’s game put their weight behind their women’s teams.
The Netherlands had produced plenty of Women’s World Cup highlights to get this far, reaching their first World Cup final on the strength of performances from the likes of Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema and Barcelona’s Lieke Martens.
As the match kicked off in Lyon, it seemed a distant memory that the European champions had struggled to qualify for this tournament, doing so via the play-offs.
This was their second consecutive major final, at only their second World Cup – an impressive rise for a nation that only established a domestic women’s league in 2007.
Yet they were up against a formidable foe in the US, chasing a fourth star and looking to match Germany in winning back-to-back championships.
USA players lift trophy after winning against Netherlands
In the seven previous World Cup finals, USA had finished in the top three: champions (1991, 1999 and 2015), runner-up (2011) and third (1995, 2003 and 2007).
Once the initial excitement of two balls on the pitch for the first 30 seconds had passed, the game took time to burst into life but, slowly, transformed into an exercise of American attack against Dutch defence or, more pertinently, goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.
The Dutch captain was in superb form, parrying Julie Ertz’s follow-up and then blocking an Ertz header before tipping Alex Morgan’s toe-poke onto the post and parrying Morgan’s pile driver in a spell of sustained US pressure before the break.
A rare Dutch attack on the stroke of half-time saw the Americans scramble the ball clear but the pattern had been set.
The question now was, would the Americans be worn down or would Dutch resistance crack?
It proved to be the latter.
Just before the hour Tobin Heath's cross was headed on by Sherida Spitse to Morgan who was challenged by Stafanie van de Gragt.
She was adjudged to have raised her boot too high and up stepped Rapinoe to slot the ball down the middle as van Veenendaal was finally beaten.
Netherlands were mentally deflated and had nothing left in the tank with which to respond.
When, just eight minutes later, Rose Lavelle drove through the centre, shimmied and placed the ball into the bottom right corner, it was game over.
It could have been more as Heath got the ball stuck under her feet as she was about to shoot, Morgan was let down by a heavy touch when clean through and Crystal Dunn was frustrated by another smart block from the legs of van Veenendaal.
She was named player of the match and, after being released by Arsenal this summer, will surely not be without a club for long.
But for her, the Stateside crowning would have come much earlier.
For the fourth time, USA are on top of the world again.
Rapinoe has won the Golden Boot, pipping Morgan (who also hit six goals) because she also produced three assists in fewer minutes than her team-mate.
A third honour soon followed as she received the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player ahead of England right-back Lucy Bronze and USA team-mate Lavelle.
The US scored 26 goals in this tournament, an all-time record.
They have lost only one of their last 44 matches in all competitions (38 wins, five draws).
Since failing to score against Australia in July 2017, the USA have scored in 45 consecutive matches in all competitions, netting 148 goals and scoring at least twice in each of their last 12 games.
This was the first ever competitive match between these nations.
USA, the pre-eminent force of the women’s game at international level, had won six of their previous eight friendly meetings before today.
Sarina Wiegman, who guided Oranje Leeuwinnen to Euro success in 2017 and this final, played in the last Dutch victory over America back in 1996. Since then it’s been eight consecutive defeats with a 24-2 aggregate score.
The next fixture will not be on many minds right now but its not to long until the Dutch women’s team are in action again.
They travel to Estonia on August 30 for the first qualifying match for the UEFA Women’s Championship, closely followed by a home tie against Turkey (September 3).
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This message was edited by SBOBET on 10-Jul-2019 at 8:12 PM