Rapinoe double powers US past hosts France to the Women's World Cup semis
The most anticipated match of this Women's World Cup did not disappoint. In a colossal contest on a summer night in Paris, the US prevailed over host France to move a step closer to successfully defending its title.
A drilled Rapinoe free kick gave the defending champion the lead in the fifth minute, and the midfielder doubled the advantage after the break by directing a Tobin Heath cross home.
With a team of the US' know-how enjoying a two-goal advantage, the match seemed set for a straightforward conclusion but an 80th-minute Wendie Renard header raised the decibels inside the stadium and sowed some seeds of doubt.
Les Bleues were denied a late penalty appeal against a US side in retreat but, after a pulsating 90 minutes, the experience, composure and ruthlessness of the US proved decisive against an opponent which has never been beyond the last eight of a World Cup.
The 33-year-old Rapinoe, likely to be playing her last World Cup, has now scored five goals in France, moving her level with teammate Alex Morgan and England's Ellen White at the top of the scoring charts.
To illustrate the worth of Rapinoe's creativity to her country, since her World Cup debut in 2011, she has scored seven times in the tournament and provided seven assists.
After conceding early, France worked its way back into the match, with Kadidiatou Diani posing problems on the right flank. Despite dominating first-half possession Les Bleues could not draw level, a mistimed Diani header being as close as the host got.
The US began the second half aggressively, with Heath drawing a fine save from French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi at the near post. But France created chances and looked to be gathering steam until its defense was breached in the 65th minute.
In the 74th minute, Heath thought she had scored her team's third of the night, but the goal was ruled out for offside and from there on in France took over, giving the impression that it might stage an unlikely comeback.
The towering Renard, unmarked inside the box, headed home Amel Majri's free-kick for the defender's fourth goal in five games.
With the full-time whistle looming, France appealed for a penalty when Amel Majri's cross hit the arm of Kelley O'Hara, but the referee, rightly, ignored France's pleas and the US held on for its 10th straight World Cup win.
The US will face England in the July 2 semifinal in Lyon. The Lionesses swept away Norway 3-0 in their quarterfinal.
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