SPORTS

USWNT advances to Women’s World Cup final with narrow win over England

Jul 2, 2019, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm
alex morgan USWNT world cup final england...
Alex Morgan scored the winning goal as the USWNT edged past England. Credit: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN) — For the ability to rise to the occasion, for the aptitude to turn a blind eye to pressure and produce on the grandest of stages, there is still no team quite like the US as the defending champion saw off a talented England team 2-1 to reach the Women’s World Cup final.

England’s Ellen White had negated Christen Press’s early opener, but on her 30th birthday, Alex Morgan headed home before the break to score what proved to be the winner.

Though challenged by the world’s finest teams in the knockouts, the USWNT remains firmly on its perch. But England will be kept awake at night by thoughts of what might have been — what if a White goal had not been ruled out for offside, what if captain Steph Houghton had not missed a penalty in the final 10 minutes.

But England, losers in a major semifinal for the third successive time, were not quite at the US’ level and the frustration of missing opportunities to level was evident when Millie Bright was awarded a red card in the dying minutes

Unless the Netherlands or Sweden — the second semifinal takes place Wednesday — can achieve the unexpected in Sunday’s final in the same stadium, the US will retain its title, accentuating the country’s dominance of the women’s game.

It is rare for such an anticipated match to live up to its promise, but this semifinal between the No.1 and No.3 ranked teams in the world certainly did. It was frantic, it was high-octane and it was a magnificent advert for the game.

Surprise substitute

The announcement of the team hinted that this was going to be an exhilarating night. Megan Rapinoe, the match winner in both the last-16 and quarterfinal ties, started on the substitutes’ bench, to the surprise of many.

After much of the pre-match talk centered on Lucy Bronze going head-to-head with Rapinoe it was Press the England player — dubbed the best in the world by her manager Phil Neville — had to shackle.

Though unexpected, were Jill Ellis’ reasons tactical it was understandable given that Rapinoe, after three ACL injuries, hasn’t the pace or endurance to deal with Bronze’s lung-busting darts down the flank for 90 minutes.

Ellis also started with Lindsey Horan, the US’ most imposing midfielder and the NWSL’s 2018 player of the year, but absent from the starting line-up in the two knockout matches. Again, the US’ game plan worked, though in the closing stages the USWNT had to hold on.

England also made changes. England’s first-choice goalkeeper Karen Bardsley did not feature because of a hamstring injury so Carly Telford stepped in to make her second major international appearance. Arguably Telford should have done better in stopping both headers, but it was a match where both keepers made brilliant saves.

Alyssa Naeher, a player who has had to withstand much criticism this tournament, played her part in victory — producing a stunning first-half save from a Keira Walsh thunderbolt and, of course, stopping Houghton’s penalty but, in truth, it was a poor effort from England’s defender.

No Rapinoe, no problem

In a brilliant first half, Rapinoe’s replacement Press opened the scoring, heading home from a Tobin Heath cross. Rapinoe has been the focus of attention over the last few weeks, for her match-winning exploits and for agitating the US President, but those who have followed the US in this tournament will have been aware that it is Heath who has been the biggest threat down the flanks in France, and so she was once again in Lyon.

As much as Heath has been piercing through defensive lines throughout this competition, England’s White has been lethal in front of goal. With her first chance, the England striker struck from close range for her sixth goal in five games after a fine cross from Beth Mead.

The leveler had come during a period of US dominance, with Rose Lavell in particular testing England’s rookie goalkeeper with a number of shots from distance — one effort from the edge of the box in the 24th minute forced Telford into a wonderful reflex save.

But with England gathering momentum after White’s strike, Morgan gave her side the lead with a close-range header after Lindsey Horan beautifully picked her out from a crowd. On her birthday, the striker celebrated by sipping from an imaginary cup of tea, a nod to the renowned fondness of the English for the beverage.

But in White, England has a special talent — her manager has compared her to England men’s greats Alan Shearer and Michael Owen — and after a cute through ball from Jill Scott in the second half, she coolly placed her effort beyond Naeher.

The striker posed with what is now her trademark celebration, but the referee called VAR into play and though the margin was gossamer thin, replays did show that the striker was offside. Just.

It will no doubt be a talking point, some will almost certainly argue that the goal should have been awarded — but England did have another fine opportunity to level, which it did not take advantage of.

It was White in the mix once again. Falling inside the box after contact with Becky Sauerbrunn, the striker earned her team a penalty after another VAR review. It was the slightest of touches from the US defender, but enough to bring White down when through on goal.

Houghton stepped up, but she struck straight at the US goalkeeper.

White was in tears during a BBC interview in the immediate aftermath of the match. Asked if her team could have done any more to reach a first final, she lachrymosely replied: “Score.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Sports

utah jazz educator award winners...
Andrew Gordon

Spanish Fork teacher is year’s first Jazz “Most Valuable Educator”

The Jazz "Most Valuable Educator" honor comes with a custom Jazz jersey and $1,000 grant for the winning teacher's classroom.
3 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Randall Jepson

Council chair weighs in on the future of Smith’s Ballpark

Ballpark Community Council Chair Amy Hawkins sees future green space and a place for people to relax at the site of Smith's Ballpark.
3 days ago
girls play tackle football...
Randall Jeppesen

Girls’ tackle football lawsuit reinstated

Several girls filed a lawsuit in 2017 to get three Utah school districts to create tackle football teams for girls.
11 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake Bees baseball relocating to new field in Daybreak in 2025

The new Bees baseball stadium will be privately financed by owner, The Larry H. Miller Company, and is expected to be completed by the 2025 season.
11 days ago
A Snow College student-athlete died Monday morning in a two-car accident on SR-132. Photo credit: U...
Samantha Herrera

Snow College softball player dies in car accident

Snow College student and athlete Paige Rydalch reportedly died in a car crash Monday morning. She was an infielders on the school's softball team.
12 days ago
Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates -- positive updates...
Elizabeth Wolfe, Jacob Lev and Adrienne Broaddus, CNN

‘Keep praying for me’: Damar Hamlin, breathing on his own, posts on Instagram for the first time since collapse

Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates. Positive updates Bills players say.
21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
USWNT advances to Women’s World Cup final with narrow win over England