.SOn a hot and steamy night in Paris, the United States Women's National Team emerged triumphant from their battle with the home nation, France. It was an ugly 2-1 victory for the USA as they spent most of the match fighting off endless waves of French pressure. Despite the troubles, and only controlling 39% of the possession, the USA managed to emerge victorious. These two teams were the big favorites to win the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, but the United States still has two more wins to secure if they want to claim their fourth World Cup title.
Rapinoe gives the USWNT a fast start
The United States continued their streak of getting on the scoreboard early. French defender Griedge Mbock Bathy took down USA forward Alex Morgan who had gotten in behind her to concede a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box. Megan Rapinoe set up behind the ball and sent a low kick into the box. Amazingly, the ball went through the legs of three players and past the outstretched hand of France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi into the net. The keeper was never given a chance to see the ball and the USA took an early 1-0 lead.
The rest of the half featured both teams generating plenty of pressure and opportunities, but nothing that really tested either goalkeeper. Despite controlling 59% of the possession, France exited the first half with just six shots and zero shots on goal. The United States also registered six shots with five on target.
France press but the USWNT survive the late surge
The Americans nearly put a second goal on the board in the first minute of the second half. Off of the kickoff they were able to control the ball, and it ended up with Samantha Mewis just outside of the box. She took a low, hard shot to the far post, but Bouhaddi parried it away. The rolling ball found Tobin Heath, and she took a shot from a tight angle, which was also blocked away. The subsequent corner kick was cleared away with little trouble.
For the next 25 minutes, France dominated the match. They had seemingly endless pressure on attack, but they were never able to create a real scoring opportunity. Alyssa Naeher, the United States keeper, was never asked to make a difficult save.
In the 65th minute, it would be the United States adding to the scoresheet against the run of play. Heath took the ball down the right side of the pitch and straight to the end line. Mewis made a darting run into the box to draw in her defender, and French center back Wendie Renard stopped running at the top of her box. This allowed Rapinoe to loop around and vacate the space emptied by Mewis, and she was able to finish cleanly against an open net to double the USA's advantage.
The USWNT were nearly able to score just a few minutes later when left back Crystal Dunn broke in behind the defense and sent the ball through the box to Heath, but the play was called offside.
In the 81st minute it was time for the French comeback to take place. After a questionable foul call 25 yards from goal, Gaetane Thiney sent a perfect ball in towards the six-yard box where Renard was waiting to head it in. The two French players would have been off if Mewis hadn't fallen for the dummy run. Just like that, France was just one goal away from drawing level.
There was a brief moment just a few minutes later where it looked like American defender Kelley O'Hara might have been called for a handball in the box, but the referee never looked convinced and no VAR was consulted.
The fourth official eventually held up five minutes of stoppage time, but the United States ran the clock out expertly for the second match in a row to punch their ticket for the semifinals.
France hadn't lost to the United States in their last three meetings. The semifinal match for the USA will take place on July 2nd against fellow semi-finalist England.