One win away.
The United States booked a place in the final of the Women’s World Cup with a thrilling 2-1 victory over England on Tuesday, getting first-half goals from Christen Press and Alex Morgan to secure a third successive trip to the showpiece match.
The two American goals, both pinpoint headers, sandwiched a deft Ellen White finish in the 19th minute. Another tally from the English striker was called back in the second half after VAR correctly ruled she was inches offside.
The Lionesses were gifted a golden opportunity to equalize late in the match, as a lengthy VAR check awarded Phil Neville’s team a penalty for a foul on White. Captain Steph Houghton stepped up to the spot in the 84th minute, but a diving Alyssa Naeher denied her low effort.
It’s the third penalty England has missed in the competition.
The U.S. then saw out the remaining minutes comfortably.
Jill Ellis’ side, the defeated finalist in 2011 before capturing the crown four years ago, will now play the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Sweden and the Netherlands.
Sunday’s contest in Lyon will signal the Americans’ fifth appearance in the final, the most of any nation in Women’s World Cup history. The engrossing win over England also saw the U.S. set tournament records for consecutive victories (11) and matches without a defeat (16).
Ellis’ immediate concern ahead of the final will be the fitness of two crucial contributors. Co-captain Megan Rapinoe missed Tuesday’s win due to a hamstring issue, while standout midfielder Rose Lavelle had to be substituted in the second half with an undisclosed ailment.
Rapinoe’s absence had many perplexed before the game. Ellis gave no indication as to why the veteran star was sidelined; she came out for pregame warmups, but didn’t partake in the on-field drills with her teammates. Rapinoe said after the match that she was dealing with a “minor” strain, adding that she’ll be ready for the final.
Press rose to the occasion in her place, though, scoring the opening goal in the 10th minute, and working tirelessly down the flank to help stymie dynamic England full-back Lucy Bronze.
Meanwhile, Morgan, celebrating her 30th birthday, moved atop the Golden Boot chart with her sixth goal of the tournament. She’s tied with White, but holds the edge thanks to her trio of assists.