USA champs again as Rapinoe, Lavelle deny Netherlands
Lyon: The United States retained the FIFA women's World Cup on Sunday as a Megan Rapinoe penalty and a Rose Lavelle strike gave the holders a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final in Lyon.
Rapinoe stroked home from 12 yards to put the USA ahead just after the hour mark and end the tournament as joint top scorer on six goals.
There was an air of inevitability about the 34-year-old, the star of this World Cup on and off the field, putting the USA ahead, and it also seemed inevitable that the breakthrough goal should come from a VAR-awarded penalty.
The whippet-like Lavelle, another stand-out performer over the last month, got the second in the 69th minute, killing off Dutch hopes of a comeback.
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The victory underlined the USA's status as the dominant force in international women's football as they claimed the World Cup for the fourth time in eight editions.
"I don't even have words, it's crazy right now. Even just getting to another final, it's so difficult," said Rapinoe. "Hopefully we will continue to reign strong for a number of years."
Rapinoe ended the tournament with the Golden Ball for the best player ahead of England's Lucy Bronze and Lavelle, while also winning the Golden Boot as her six goals came from fewer minutes on the field than teammate Alex Morgan or England's Ellen White.
The USA were already the first team to appear in three consecutive finals, and 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.
"Man that's very impressive. She'll thank us later," said Rapinoe.
The USA had been the only non-European team to make the quarter-finals here, but they had already ended the hopes of the hosts and England before denying the Dutch a dream double, two years after they won Euro 2017.
"We would have loved to win this final, but we didn't. Our opponent was better today," said Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman.
"So we're second in the world, and I'm very proud of that and for the team and staff."
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