Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Vancouver: A Carli Lloyd hat-trick, which included a sensational strike from the halfway line, helped the USA beat holders Japan 5-2 on Sunday evening (local time) as a jubilant American side claimed their third FIFA Women’s World Cup title.
Five of the seven goals came during a breathtaking first half, with Lloyd’s virtuoso performance coupled with strikes from Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath ensuring Yuki Ogimi’s 27th minute effort and a Julie Johnston own goal would be nothing more than consolation for Asia’s reigning champions who, at times, were simply blown away by a whirlwind USA display.
At a packed BC Place Stadium, the Americans began in blistering fashion, Lloyd opening the scoring and her own account with a neat finish from near the penalty spot following Megan Rapinoe’s accurate corner.
The impressive USA captain duly doubled her tally just two minutes later when she converted Holiday’s free-kick to claim the fastest two goals in Women’s World Cup Final history and send the vast majority of the 53, 341 crowd wild.
With Japan reeling, seasoned campaigner Holiday extended her team’s lead on 14 minutes, the midfielder volleying home after defender Azusa Iwashimizu had failed to deal with a Tobin Heath delivery. The best was, however, still to come courtesy of the irrepressible Lloyd.
Having helped the Stars and stripes weather a rare Japanese foray into the American half, Lloyd picked the ball up before advancing to the half-way line and unleashing a shot that the backpedalling Ayumi Kaihori could only help over the line via an outstretched arm.
Lloyd and Alex Morgan both then went close for the USA, before a stunned Japan dug deep and reduced the deficit courtesy of Ogimi’s smart finish past Hope Solo to give themselves a glimmer of hope ahead of the second period.
No doubt stirred by head coach Norio Sasaki’s half-time pep talk and bolstered by the introduction of Homare Sawa and forward Yuika Sugasawa, the Nadeshiko roared out of the traps after the break, and their efforts were rewarded when Johnston could only succeed in glancing a header over her own line following a 52nd minute Aya Miyama set-piece.
It was not to be though for Japan as Heath notched the USA’s fifth a mere two minutes later to virtually end the game as a contest and hand Julie Ellis and her charges a much deserved world crown.