3 July 2019 – For a record fifth time and third successive edition, USA have qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Final. But while the outcome may be familiar, there was nothing predictable or routine about this thrilling knockout encounter.
A capacity Stade de Lyon crowd looked on enthralled as the tournament’s holders and record champions showed all of their quality and fighting spirit to see off a fierce English challenge.
The first half in particular matched and at times exceeded the remarkable standards set in the Americans’ quarter-final win over France, with Christen Press and Alex Morgan scoring excellent headers either side of a delightfully dispatched Ellen White finish.
The second, if not as high in quality, was every bit as dramatic. VAR was prominent in the disallowing of another White goal and the awarding of a penalty that Alyssa Naeher saved from Steph Houghton, while Millie Bright saw red for an challenge on birthday girl Morgan.
Jill Ellis, USA head coach
“We’re here for one thing, and that’s to win the trophy. Everything we talk about and focus on is about that. When you are the premier team in the world, you’re always going to have noise and external stuff. But we have a unique way of making sure that everything is about the game plan and preparation. The conversations I hear from the players are really about the game, which is exciting as a coach. They’re professionals, that’s the best way to sum it up.”
Phil Neville, England head coach
“We’ll have to allow 24 to 48 hours for this to sink in and for them to get over this disappointment. Nothing I can say will make them feel better. Elite sport and being on top of the world means that on Saturday in Nice we have to produce a performance. It will tell me a lot about my players. I’ve moved on from this already and now I’m looking forward to Saturday’s game. I’ll see the attitude, commitment of my players. They won’t let me down, because they never have.”
“Most enthralling 90 minutes in my management career”
“It’s about winning. I can’t say to my players, ‘unlucky’. That’s white noise to them, because they wanted to win. That tells me that we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We came here to win and we didn’t do that. Good luck to the USA. They showed they know what it takes to win football matches. Their game management was spectacular. It was the most enthralling 90 minutes I’ve been involved in as a manager. We’re knocking on the door now.”
More from Neville
“I didn’t want to see tears. I thought the way we lost was exactly the way we wanted to play. The courage they had to play football and keep going, to battle; they left everything out there. No regrets. We gave it our absolute all. We’ve had the best four to six days of our lives, so we didn’t want it to end. It’s not over because we have Saturday’s match. I don’t wallow and I won’t feel sorry for myself. The aim is for us to become the best, like America. We’ve still got a bit to go, but I won’t stop until we get there.”
Alex Morgan, Player of the Match
“I felt like England had a great game. Alyssa Naeher came out huge for us on the penalty save. This team has had so much thrown at us. We haven’t had an easy route to the final.
“Each tournament has given me something different and I’ve looked at it through a different lens (as a captain). I saw all my team-mates being so emotional, and I know it means so much to us. We’ve put so much into this journey together.”
Team Reporter analysis
It could have been the unprecedented change in system, a weary defence, sacrificing possession cheaply or failing to rise to the occasion. Whatever the reason, and despite a superb performance by Rachel Daly and plenty of energy going forward, England’s standards slipped tonight and they paid a heavy price. The loss will have devastated Phil Neville’s troops, who throughout this tournament have looked confident, ruthless and virtually unflappable. While England showed plenty of aggression at the Stade de Lyon, not all of it was well-channelled. Ultimately, it compromised their previously excellent disciplinary record – most notably when Millie Bright was shown a second yellow – and helped smooth USA’s path to another Final.
As was the case against France in the quarter-finals, this wasn’t always pretty – but the USWNT did everything they could to tough it out until the very end. The Americans came out firing once again and maintained their amazing record of scoring in the first 12 minutes of every match at this Women’s World Cup, with Christen Press – in for the injured Megan Rapinoe – making her mark. Even when England levelled through Ellen White, the US held their nerve and the stadium erupted when birthday girl Alex Morgan re-established their lead with another superbly taken header. But they could never rest easy on that single-goal lead and a more physical, direct game in the second half made for plenty of drama, including some tight VAR calls. But when all was said and done, USA – once again – got the job done.
Now it’s onwards to yet another Women’s World Cup Final.
USA now hold the record for consecutive Women’s World Cup wins with 11, and for matches unbeaten with 16.
USA are the first nation to reach three consecutive Women’s World Cup finals.
Naeher’s shining moment
Did you know? Alyssa Naeher is the first USA goalkeeper to save a penalty at the Women’s World Cup.
- USA beat England 2-1 to reach a record fifth Final
- Press and Morgan put the holders through to face the Netherlands or Sweden
- Reaction and more: #ENGUSA Live Blog