USA are crowned champions of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019
Megan Rapinoe penalty, Lavelle strike help America beat Dutch 2-0 to retain crown
Lyon (France): The United States retained the Women's World Cup yesterday as a Megan Rapinoe penalty and a superb Rose Lavelle strike gave the holders a 2-0 victory over a battling Netherlands side in Lyon.
Having been kept at bay by the brilliant Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal throughout the first half, the USA finally went ahead just after the hour as Rapinoe stroked home from 12 yards to end the tournament as joint top scorer on six goals.
Air of inevitability
There was an air of inevitability about the pink-haired, 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 Stephanie Frappart initially giving a corner before pointing to the spot following a review.
The whippet-like Lavelle, another stand-out performer over the last month, got the second goal in the 69th minute, killing off Dutch hopes of a comeback. The victory underlines the USA's status as the dominant force in international women's football as they claim the World Cup for the fourth time in eight editions. 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 had been the only non-European team to make it to the quarter-finals here, but they had already ended the hopes of the hosts and England before denying the Dutch a dream double success, two years after they won Euro 2017 on home soil.
Rapinoe is an ageing star
Whether the Americans can continue this domination on to the next World Cup remains to be seen, not least because Rapinoe is already in the twilight years of her career.
She was brought back into the starting line-up here by Ellis having sat out the victory over England in the last four due to a hamstring problem. Christen Press made way but came on for the closing stages, as Rapinoe went off to a loud ovation from the USA fans.
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