The United States won a record-extending fourth women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday as second-half goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle confirmed their status as the leading power in the women’s game.
The defending champions struggled to gain dominance for an hour before a Rapinoe penalty, her sixth goal of the tournament, broke the deadlock and a fine individual effort from Lavelle in the 69th minute put the outcome beyond doubt.
The Dutch, who are the European champions, ran out of steam after Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 61st minute, having done more than any team to frustrate the Americans.
A perfect occasion for Rapinoe, whose outspoken views have been prominent especially on the pay disparity between men and women players, was capped when FIFA chief Gianni Infantino was greeted with chants of “equal pay, equal pay” by American fans.
At 34, Rapinoe is unlikely to be back on this stage in four years’ time, but it is hard to imagine her walking away from the battles she has led with the US Soccer Federation and world governing body FIFA over fairer terms for the women’s game.
However, amidst the firework celebrations after the final whistle, Rapinoe’s thoughts were on her team’s triumph -- their second in a row after the 2015 victory in Canada.
“It’s like history. I don’t know how to feel right now. It is ridiculous,” said Rapinoe.
“We’re crazy that’s what makes us special. We just have no quit in us. We are so tight. We will do anything to win.”