Rapinoe steers USA into semi-finals
Paris: Megan Rapinoe stole the headlines as her brace took the United States through to the semi-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup on Friday, the holders beating France 2-1 in Paris to puncture the hopes of the host nation.
Rapinoe's free-kick five minutes into this quarter-final evaded a sea of bodies in the box on its way into the net to stun the home crowd at the Parc des Princes.
The USA then soaked up pressure before delivering the knockout blow midway through the second half when Rapinoe turned in Tobin Heath's centre, although Wendie Renard pulled a goal back late on for France to set up a tense finish.
Jill Ellis's team held on and they go through to a semi-final against England in Lyon next Tuesday as they seek to retain their crown and win a fourth World Cup in eight editions.
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"This is so special to beat the host nation in the Parc des Princes. You can't ask for any more than this," said Rapinoe.
The 33-year-old had already scored twice in the win over Spain in the last round. Here, she took her tally for the tournament to five goals on the occasion of her 157th cap.
Meanwhile, France will leave their own tournament with more than a few regrets.
Coach Corinne Diacre had been set the target of going all the way to the final on home soil, yet that always looked a tall order from the moment the draw was made last December and they were set on a quarter-final collision course with the best team in the world.
"It's a failure in a footballing sense, we can't hide from that. We are far from fulfilling our objective," said Diacre.
"I hope we at least won people's hearts tonight and since the start of the tournament."
Saturday's remaining quarter-finals will see Italy taking on the Netherlands and Germany facing Sweden.
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