Captain Morgan's winner sends US through to the Women's World Cup Final

For the ability to rise to the occasion, for the aptitude to turn a blind eye to pressure and produce on the grandest of stages, there is still no team quite like the US as the defending champion saw off a talented England team 2-1 to reach the Women's World Cup final.

England's Ellen White had negated Christen Press's early opener, but on her 30th birthday, Alex Morgan headed home before the break to score what proved to be the winner.

But England will be kept awake at night by thoughts of what might have been: what if a White goal had not been ruled out for offside, what if captain Steph Houghton had not missed a penalty in the final 10 minutes.

England was not quite at the US' level, and the frustration of missing opportunities to level was evident when Millie Bright was awarded a red card in the dying minutes.

Unless the Netherlands or Sweden -- the second semifinal takes place Wednesday -- can achieve the unexpected in Sunday's final in the same stadium, the US will retain its title, accentuating the country's dominance of the women's game.

It is rare for such an anticipated match to live up to its promise, but this semifinal between the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the world certainly did. It was frantic, it was high-octane, and it was a magnificent advert for the game.

The announcement of the team hinted that this was going to be an exhilarating night. To the surprise of many, Megan Rapinoe, the match winner in both the last-16 and quarterfinal ties, started on the substitutes' bench.

Naeher, who has had to withstand much criticism this tournament, played her part, producing a stunning first-half save from a Keira Walsh thunderbolt and, of course, stopping Houghton's penalty, but in truth, it was a poor effort from England's defender.

In an entertaining first half, Rapinoe's replacement Press opened the scoring, heading home from a Tobin Heath cross.

While Heath has been piercing through defensive lines throughout this competition, England's White has been lethal in front of goal. With her first chance, the England striker struck from close range for her sixth goal in five games after a fine cross from Beth Mead.

But with England gathering momentum after White's strike, Morgan gave her side the lead with a close-range header after Horan beautifully picked her out from a crowd. On her birthday, the striker celebrated by sipping from an imaginary cup of tea, a nod to the English's renowned fondness for the beverage.

But in White, England has a special talent -- her manager has compared her to England men's greats Alan Shearer and Michael Owen -- and after a cute through ball from Jill Scott in the second half, she coolly placed an effort beyond Naeher.

The striker posed with what is now her trademark celebration, but the referee called VAR into play, and though the margin was gossamer thin, replays did show that the striker was offside. 

England did have another fine opportunity to level, which it did not take advantage of. It was White in the mix once again. Falling inside the box after contact with Sauerbrunn, the striker earned her team a penalty after another VAR review. 

It was the slightest of touches from the US defender, but enough to bring White down when through on goal. Houghton stepped up, but she struck straight at the US goalkeeper.


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