LYON (France): The United States won a record-extending fourth women’s football World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday as second-half goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle confirmed their status as the leading power in the women’s game.
The defending champions struggled to gain dominance for an hour before a Rapinoe penalty, her sixth goal of the tournament, broke the deadlock and a fine individual effort from Lavelle in the 69th minute put the outcome beyond doubt.
The Dutch, who are the European champions, ran out of steam after Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 61st minute, having done more than any team to frustrate the Americans.
A perfect occasion for Rapinoe, whose outspoken views have been prominent especially on the pay disparity between men and women players, was capped when FIFA chief Gianni Infantino was greeted with chants of “equal pay, equal pay” by American fans.
At 34, Rapinoe is unlikely to be back on this stage in four years’ time, but it is hard to imagine her walking away from the battles she has led with the US Soccer Federation and world governing body FIFA over fairer terms for the women’s game.
However, amidst the firework celebrations after the final whistle, Rapinoe’s thoughts were on her team’s triumph — their second in a row after the 2015 victory in Canada. “It’s like history. I don’t know how to feel right now. It is ridiculous,” said Rapinoe.
“We’re crazy that’s what makes us special. We just have no quit in us. We are so tight. We will do anything to win.”
Rapinoe drew the ire of President Donald Trump during the tournament by saying she and teammates would refuse to visit the White House, part of the team’s wider push for gender equity. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio needed just a few seconds after the final whistle to invite the team to a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan on Wednesday.
The Americans never trailed in the tournament and set records with 26 goals and a 12-game World Cup winning streak dating to 2015. Coach Jill Ellis became the first coach to lead a team to two women’s World Cup titles, and the US joined Germany in 2003 and 2007 as the only repeat champions.
“It’s just chemistry. They put their hearts and soul into this journey,” Ellis said. “They made history.”
Rapinoe, who missed Tuesday’s semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury, became the first woman to score on a penalty kick during a World Cup final, her 50th goal in 158 international appearances. She matched Morgan and England’s Ellen White for most goals in the tournament and won the Golden Ball based on fewer minutes.
Rapinoe was given a standing ovation by the crowd when she subbed out in the 79th minute. The crowd of 57,900 at Stade de Lyon for Le Grand Finale included French President Emmanuel Macron.