United States lift the 2019 Women's World Cup after beating the Netherlands
A coolly taken Megan Rapinoe penalty and beautifully worked goal from Rose Lavelle fired USA to their fourth Women’s World Cup title against a resilient Netherlands side.
Rapinoe also tied up the Golden Boot ahead of US teammate Alex Morgan, having matched her for goals and assists but in a shorter space of time.
The USA co-captain slotted home the spot-kick on the hour, after Morgan had been fouled in the penalty area by Stefanie van der Gragt. Eight minutes later, Lavelle sealed victory with a fine solo effort.
With the USA having overcome the hosts, France and England en route to the final, there was less a feeling that this would be ‘Le Grande Finale’ and more of a hope that it would not be a whitewash.
But the Dutch relish the role of underdogs, having won a maiden major trophy on home soil at Euro 2017. This was old money against new, the defending world champions and the European champions, who only launched a professional domestic league in 2007, going head-to-head for the first time.
The Dutch looked more organised than they had been all tournament, with two clean sheets on the trot against Italy and Sweden hinted that they had started to click, having conceded in their previous three World Cup games.
For the first time in the tournament, USA failed to score in the opening 12 minutes. It took until the 31st minute before the world champions had a shot on target, the first of the match.
If it felt like the USA would need a stroke of luck or mistake from their opponent as they did against Spain, France and England, and Stefanie Van der Gragt handed it to them close to the hour mark.
With Heath’s cross headed on by Sherida Spitse, Morgan was on hand to collect but a high Van der Gragt leg swept in, caught Morgan’s shoulder and missed the ball entirely. There was a pause for VAR before the inevitable penalty was given.
Up stepped co-captain Rapinoe to coolly power it straight down the middle, putting her ahead in the race for the Golden Boot.
With so much of their success this tournament having come from the wings, the USA sealed the title by cutting through the middle. Midfielder Lavelle, kept quiet for much of the game, cantered through the middle, cut in between Van der Gragt and Anouk Dekker and coolly fired low past Van Veenendaal.
This was not the game many predicted, and the Dutch kept pushing for a way through the now familiar five-woman back line that the USA had converted to.
In the end though, the tactical nous, confidence, and fabled “winning mentality” saw the holders retain their title in front of a capacity crowd of 59,000 fans.
Having shimmied past Spain, France, England and the European champions, USA showed their dominance of women’s football is far from waning, but the gap is getting closer.