Alex Morgan and Alyssa Naeher lead U.S. women to 2-1 victory over England in World Cup semis
Alex Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday on Tuesday by scoring a decisive goal and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stopped a late penalty kick in a 2-1 United States victory over England in the Women’s World Cup semifinal in Lyon, France.
The American win sends them to Sunday’s championship match,also in Lyon, against the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal match between the Netherlands and Sweden.
England will play the loser of that contest on Saturday in Nice for third place.
The United States barely held on, as Naeher made the save of the tournament by stopping England’s Stephanie Houghton on a spot kick in the 84th minute.
“Alyssa Naeher … obviously, like, she saved our ass,” Morgan told Fox viewers moments after the match. “Sorry, excuse that, but she saved outs butts today.”
The underdog English appeared to tie it in the 67th minute when their star Ellen White got past defender Abby Dahlkemper and fired a shot past Naeher. But video review showed White was offside, wiping out the equalizer.
Instead it was Morgan, a native of Diamond Bar, California, who would be the match’s heroine. The captain headed home Lindsay Horan’s pass in the 31st minute, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Horan got the ball from Christen Press, who moments earlier skillfully chested down a high pass along the sideline to maintain possession.
Press, who started place of injured Megan Rapinoe, had given the United States a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when she headed home a well-struck cross from Kelly O’Hara.
The goal was made possible by Tobin Heath’s big run and dummy pass to Rose Lavelle — who let the ball roll by her, taking the attention of two English defenders. That non-touch by Lavelle opened up O’Hara to feed Press, a 30-year-old from Palos Verdes Estates, California.
Press’ header barely cleared the fingertips of England’s backup goalkeeper, the 5-foot-8 Carly Telford.
England’s top keeper, American-born and -raised Karen Bardsley, was injured and unable to play. The 6-foot-tall Bardsley hurt her hamstring in the Lioness’ last game against Norway.
England’s top gun, White, responded minutes after Press’ opening tally when she flicked home a heavy pass from Beth Mead in the 19th minute.
The Lionesses came into Tuesday’s match as 2-to-1 betting underdog to the United States, currently the world’s top ranked team.
In the seven previous Women’s World Cup tournaments, the United States has won three championships, finished second once and taken home third place three times.
The American women have been in top form by ignoring — if not thriving off — a host of off-the-pitch dramas that could have early brought down lesser sides.
Last week, Rapinoe touched off an online storm when she said in a videotaped interview, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House” if the U.S. wins the World Cup.
That prompted President Donald Trump to chastise Rapinoe via Twitter for allegedly disrespecting the country. But teammates and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., were quick to defend and embrace the veteran U.S. star.
And before the Americans ever landed on French soil, they made waves by filing a federal lawsuit against their own soccer federation.
They accused the United States Soccer Federation of carrying on “institutionalized gender discrimination” that’s reflected in their pay, medical care, travel arrangements and overall workload.
The plaintiffs have agreed to mediation.