USA become football World Cup champions for fourth time with victory over Netherlands
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Captain Megan Rapinoe was on target as the title holders beat a dogged Dutch side 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday to win the Women's World Cup for a record-extending fourth time.
Rapinoe converted a VAR-awarded penalty in the 61st minute and Rose Lavelle wrapped up the victory eight minutes later with a terrific solo effort as the Americans added to their 1991, 1999 and 2015 titles.
There was an air of inevitability about the pink-haired 34-year-old, the star of this World Cup on and off the field, putting the USA ahead.
It also seemed inevitable that the breakthrough goal here should come from a VAR-awarded penalty, with French referee Stéphanie Frappart initially giving a corner before pointing to the spot following a review.
Rapinoe, who recovered from a right hamstring strain to play, got an ovation from the 57,900 fans at Lyon's Groupama Stadium when she came off in the 79th minute.
Her sixth goal moved her even with teammate Alex Morgan and England's Ellen White as the tournament's leading scorers.
The Netherlands battled throughout the match and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal kept the US at bay for an hour with a series of brilliant saves.
But she stood motionless when Rapinoe converted the spot kick and Lavelle's superb attempt also eluded the Dutch keeper soon after.
The victory underlines the Americans' status as the dominant force in international women's football.
They were already the first team to appear in three consecutive finals, and coach Jill Ellis becomes 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.
The USA were the only non-European team to make it to the quarter-finals, earning narrow wins over Spain, hosts France and England en route to the final.
Their victory denies the Netherlands, the reigning European champions, a famous trophy double.
Van Veenendaal's heroics
In a tournament that has showcased the improving standards of goalkeeping in the women's game, it was Van Veenendaal who prevented the USA from winning by a greater margin.
The 29-year-old former Arsenal goalie had already excelled in her team's win over Sweden in the semi-finals.
In the final she allowed her team to withstand an onslaught from the holders towards half-time, saving well from Julie Ertz and then, more impressively, producing two superb stops in quick succession in the 38th minute.
Both American chances came from Rapinoe crosses. First Van Veenendaal stopped a Samantha Mewis header, and then she turned the ball onto the post when Alex Morgan diverted Rapinoe's low centre towards goal.
Morgan was thwarted again moments later as she tried her luck from 20 yards, and the European champions held out until the interval.
The Dutch offered little going forward at the other end, but were water-tight at the back until Rapinoe’s penalty.
The referee gave a corner when Stefanie van der Gragt challenged Morgan in the area, but changed her mind upon seeing the images. Rapinoe stroked in the first penalty scored in a women's World Cup final.
The Netherlands tried to regain their composure, but there was nothing they could do to stop Lavelle's piercing run towards the box midway through the second half.
She dropped her shoulder to set up the shooting opportunity, and fired in low from 18 yards. Van Veenendaal then saved from Morgan and Dunn to prevent a rout, but the title was the USA's – once again.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
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