PARIS (AFP) – Megan Rapinoe stole the headlines again as her brace took the United States through to the semifinals of the women’s World Cup on Friday, the holders beating France, 2-1, in Paris to puncture the hopes of the host nation.
Rapinoe’s free-kick five minutes into this quarter-final evaded a sea of bodies in the box on its way into the net to stun the home crowd at the Parc des Princes.
The USA then soaked up pressure before delivering the knockout blow midway through the second half when Rapinoe turned in Tobin Heath’s centre, although Wendie Renard pulled a goal back late on for France to set up a tense finish.
Jill Ellis’s team held on and they go through to a semi-final against England in Lyon next Tuesday as they seek to retain their crown and win a fourth World Cup in eight editions.
“This is so special to beat the host nation in the Parc des Princes. You can’t ask for any more than this,” said Rapinoe.
The pink-haired Rapinoe has been crucial on the field in this run, while dominating headlines off it thanks to her spat with President Donald Trump over her refusal to attend any post-tournament reception at the White House.
The 33-year-old had already scored twice in the win over Spain in the last round. Here, she took her tally for the tournament to five goals on the occasion of her 157th cap.
Meanwhile, France will leave its own tournament with more than a few regrets.
Ellis praised the hosts, saying: :That’s a fantastic team we played tonight, and that is the most intense match I have ever been a part of.”