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Women’s World Cup: France 1-2 USA

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‘What a start’ – Rapinoe free-kick gives USA the lead

Holders the United States overcame hosts France to book a semi-final date with England at the Women’s World Cup.

Megan Rapinoe scored a goal in each half for the USA, the first a low free-kick that went in through a crowd of players, the second a side-foot finish.

France did not manage a single shot on target in the first half but Wendie Renard’s late header gave them hope.

Les Bleues then had appeals for a penalty waved away after Amel Majri’s cross struck Kelley O’Hara’s arm.

The United States, who have never failed to reach the Women’s World Cup semi-finals, will face Phil Neville’s Lionesses in Lyon on Tuesday (20:00 BST).

The result also means there will be a Great Britain women’s team at Tokyo 2020 because England are guaranteed to be one of the top three European teams at the World Cup.

Rapinoe brushes off Trump remarks to inspire USA

US president Donald Trump had criticised Rapinoe on Twitter before the quarter-final, telling the US women’s team co-captain not to “disrespect our country” after she said she would not visit the White House if they won the World Cup.

Trump said Rapinoe, who scored two penalties as the US beat Spain in the last 16, should “win before she talks”.

If the forward was affected by the episode, she showed no sign of it as she inspired her country to yet another World Cup semi-final.

Her opening goal came during a blistering start to the game, which saw three US attempts on target in the opening 15 minutes.

Rapinoe’s angled free-kick after five minutes went through the legs of France captain Amandine Henry and into the net and the USA went on to control the half.

They doubled the lead when Alex Morgan’s sublime pass allowed Tobin Heath to find an unmarked Rapinoe to score her fifth goal of the tournament.

The USA wobbled late on as Renard lifted the partisan crowd’s spirits but the holders’ vast experience saw them over the line – and to a meeting with the Lionesses.

A nation’s dream ends where it began

This was billed as the biggest game in the history of French women’s football.

In the end, a nation’s dream ended at a raucous Parc des Princes three weeks after it began at the same venue with a 4-0 drubbing of South Korea.

The hosts struggled before half-time in a game played in stifling heat in the French capital and did not produce their best football until they were 2-0 behind.

Kadidiatou Diani, one of their most dangerous players at this tournament, was kept quiet by Crystal Dunn, and it required a fine double save by Sarah Bouhaddi to frustrate Sam Mewis and Tobin Heath as the USA threatened to extend their lead at the start of the second half.

Renard’s goal, a glancing header from a free-kick, gave France new belief and they thought they had a lifeline when Majri’s cross struck the side of O’Hara’s arm but referee Kateryna Monzul decided – correctly, replays suggested – that the defender’s arm was not, in the language of the new handball law, making her body unnaturally larger.

Do England have anything to fear?

The United States and England met as recently as March, the Lionesses scoring two excellent goals through Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris in a creditable 2-2 draw at the SheBelieves Cup.

However, the USA will start as favourites at the 59,000-capacity Parc Olympique Lyonnais next week after demonstrating against France why they are the dominant force in women’s football.

They have not been beaten at a World Cup since 2011 and rarely looked like losing in Paris, where they were on top despite having 10 fewer shots than France.

England will need to play their best football under Neville if they are to avoid another semi-final disappointment and reach a first ever Women’s World Cup final.

More to follow.




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