USA retain Women's World Cup in style

Megan Rapinoe scores again as the USWNT beat the Netherlands 2-0 to claim their fourth world title in Lyon.

USA proved their Rio 2016 failure was a mere blip as they retained their FIFA Women's World Cup title in Lyon.

They beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon in a game they never really looked like losing.

Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring from the penalty spot after an hour, with Rose Lavelle's fine individual effort sealing a fourth world title for the USWNT.

While they have not yet qualified for the next Olympic Games, unlike their Dutch opponents, it's clear that it will take something special to deny the United States a fifth gold at Tokyo 2020.

"We are crazy. That's what makes us special. We have no quit in us and we'll do anything to win." - Megan Rapinoe speaking on the pitch after USA's World Cup triumph

Carli Lloyd lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy after the USA retained the title in France
Carli Lloyd lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy after the USA retained the title in FranceCarli Lloyd lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy after the USA retained the title in France

A huge American contingent travelled to Lyon to support their heroes, and gave the world a reminder of the team's next battle which will come off the pitch.

How the USA won their fourth Women's World Cup title

Both teams were able to welcome back big-name players after injury scares.

The Dutch had Lieke Martens in the starting line-up after a foot injury forced the Barcelona playmaker off at half-time against Sweden, while Rapinoe returned after a hamstring niggle to take the captain's armband for the defending champions.

The United States had scored inside the first 15 minutes in every match so far this tournament, and they started quickly.

But the European champions defended stoutly in the first half with goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal forced into action on several occasions.

In the 29th minute, she kept out the first chance of serious note when Julie Ertz volleyed towards goal after the ball had spun into the air after a corner.

Ten minutes later, two Rapinoe crosses from the left in quick succession brought two more saves out of van Veenendaal - first from Sam Mewis' header and then from Alex Morgan's sidefoot on the turn.

Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal keeps out Sam Mewis' header
Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal keeps out Sam Mewis' headerDutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal keeps out Sam Mewis' header

The pressure on the Dutch goal was mounting and Morgan soon saw a left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area tipped wide by the Arsenal goalkeeper.

The underdogs had clearly set their stall out to defend with Lineth Beerensteyn largely isolated up front.

The Bayern Munich striker's pace did trouble the USA backline and Abby Dahlkemper was booked for a foul just outside the penalty area.

Vivienne Miedema had a rare chance to show what she can do in first half injury-time as she ran at the American defence.

From the resulting corner, there was a chaotic goalmouth scramble which the holders were lucky to smuggle clear with the sides going in scoreless at the break.

The second half followed a similar pattern with the Dutch soaking up numerous attacks, but their resistance was broken after an hour's play.

Stefanie van der Gragt fouls Alex Morgan to concede a penalty
Stefanie van der Gragt fouls Alex Morgan to concede a penaltyStefanie van der Gragt fouls Alex Morgan to concede a penalty

French referee Stephanie Frappart was asked to check with VAR after she had given a corner despite Morgan going down in the area.

Replays showed Stefanie van der Gragt clearly caught the forward as she turned with a high boot after missing the ball, and a fairly uncontroversial penalty was awarded.

Up stepped Rapinoe and she calmly beat van Veenendaal to put the holders in front.

Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the final from the penalty spot
Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the final from the penalty spotMegan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the final from the penalty spot

That brought the Dutch out of their shell and Miedema again proved hard to dispossess as she moved deep into American territory.

But their newfound attacking intent left gaps at the back which were soon exploited.

Rose Lavelle, one of the players of the tournament, ran at the heart of the Dutch defence and unleashed a left-foot drive which gave van Veenendaal no chance.

Rose Lavelle celebrates after scoring the USA's second goal
Rose Lavelle celebrates after scoring the USA's second goalRose Lavelle celebrates after scoring the USA's second goal

More chances followed at both ends, with the Americans still looking to more likely of the teams to find the net.

Morgan squandered at least a couple of great chances, and the USA were able to show their strength in depth with Rapinoe going off to a loud ovation to be replaced by Christen Press, and Carli Lloyd coming on for Tobin Heath.

Several Dutch players fell to the turf in dismay at the final whistle, but there was little doubt that the better team had won on the day.

Megan Rapinoe with her Golden Ball player of the tournament award, and Rose Lavelle with her Bronze ball as third-best player
Megan Rapinoe with her Golden Ball player of the tournament award, and Rose Lavelle with her Bronze ball as third-best playerMegan Rapinoe with her Golden Ball player of the tournament award, and Rose Lavelle with her Bronze ball as third-best player

A nation celebrates

While men's soccer has often lagged behind the likes of NFL, basketball and baseball in terms of popularity, the women's game has long been a source of great national pride in the United States.

And a morning kick-off in America did not stop fans gathering in their thousands to watch the game.

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also passed on her congratulations.

Tennis pioneer Billie Jean King also praised the team's achievements, and called for pay equality with the American men.

And while the team may not be going to the White House, as Rapinoe stated quite definitively during the tournament, they will be welcomed home in New York City on Wednesday.

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