The most anticipated match of this Women’s World Cup did not disappoint. In a colossal contest on a balmy summer night in Paris, the US prevailed over host France to move a step closer to successfully defending its title.
Every blockbuster needs a fine storyline and the script for this quarterfinal is one that will stand the test of time because it was Megan Rapinoe — the USWNT co-captain who had irked US President Donald Trump earlier in the week — who was the match winner, scoring twice in each half to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win.
A knockout tie between arguably the two best teams in the world was always going to send a favorite packing. The reason why ticket prices had gone in the same direction as the mercury in the French capital for a match billed as “Le Grand Match” was because no-one could confidently predict how the match would unfold.
A drilled Rapinoe free-kick gave the defending champion a fifth-minute lead, and the midfielder doubled the advantage after the break by directing a Tobin Heath cross home.
With 10 minutes remaining, a Wendie Renard header raised the decibels inside the stadium and sowed some seeds of doubt but, after a pulsating 90 minutes, the experience, composure and calm of the defending champion proved decisive.