The United States Women’s National Team advanced to its third straight World Cup final and fifth in total as the Yanks defeated England 2-1 in Lyon. The heart-stopping game featured three first-half goals, a controversial penalty, and a new hero for the U.S.
Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan scored the eventual game-winning goal on her 30th birthday to snap a 1-1 score after goals by Christen Press and Ellen White.
Jill Ellis made a couple of changes for the starting lineup for the United States in this game. The biggest surprise in the starting lineup was the exclusion of Megan Rapinoe, who scored twice against France in the quarterfinal. She was replaced by Press. The second change to the lineup from the France win was Lindsey Horan replacing Sam Mewis.
The U.S. got off to an attacking start, putting England on its back foot. The first shot of the game came in the sixth minute when Rose Lavelle forced England goalkeeper Carly Telford into a save. Two minutes later, Press sent a free kick into the box but just over the head of Morgan.
In the 10th minute, the U.S. struck first, continuing a trend of scoring early in games. Kelley O’Hara received a ball toward the corner and quickly sent it into the box. The ball sailed toward the back post where Press was waiting and headed it on goal. The ball went just over the fingertips of Telford and in for the game’s opening goal.
When the U.S. has scored early in previous games, the team has been able to keep control of the match. However, England responded well to conceding first for the first time in this tournament. In the 19th minute, Beth Mead sent a great ball to the top of the six-yard box. Abby Dahlkemper left English striker White alone and her first touch was placed behind Alyssa Naeher for the equalizer. It gave White her sixth goal of the tournament and the lead for the golden boot.
The U.S. took the lead once again in the 31st minute. Horan picked the ball up outside the box after Press did well to keep it in on the sideline, and sent it in towards goal. The ball found the head of a charging Morgan who put it past Telford, giving the Americans their second lead of the game. The goal put Morgan back on top of the golden boot race with six goals and three assists in the tournament.
Alex Morgan scores her first goal since the opening game and retakes the lead in the Golden Boot race (6 goals, 3 assists)— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2019
She's the first player in #FIFAWWC history to score on her birthday pic.twitter.com/EGWBNIyaxI
Just two minutes after Morgan gave the U.S. the lead, England nearly equalized for a second time. Keira Walsh let a shot go from well outside the box, which appeared to be headed for the far top corner. Naeher dove full-stretched to her left and got her fingers to the ball, tipping it wide of goal.
England came flying out of the break, controlling a large amount of possession and creating multiple chances. The Lionesses finally broke through in the 67th minute when White was sent through on goal and slipped the shot by Naeher. In addition to making the game 2-2, the goal gave White her seventh goal, topping on the golden boot leaderboard. However, the goal was reviewed by VAR and ruled that White was offside when the ball was played, keeping it a 2-1 U.S. lead.
Controversy ensued in the 79th minute when White went down in the box. Becky Sauerbrunn came in from behind but it was unclear, even on replay, whether she made contact. The play went to video review and the referee pointed to the spot when she returned to the field.
Steph Houghton stepped up to take the penalty for England. Attempting to place the ball to the left side of the goal, Naeher dove and made the save, allowing no rebound and keeping the game at 2-1.
Assisted by a second yellow card and subsequent sending off issued to English defender Millie Bright, the U.S. was able to hold off the English attack and advanced to its third straight World Cup final with a 2-1 win. Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger came on late for O’Hara to help see the game out.
The USWNT out-shot England, 10-7 (5-2 on goal). England held 53% of the final possession and was the slightly more accurate passing team (75%-71%).
The Yanks will face the winner of the Netherlands and Sweden, which face off in the other semifinal tomorrow. The final will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m ET on FOX.