United States have advanced to the Women’s World Cup final courtesy of a 2-1 victory over England.
Alex Morgan celebrated her 31st-minute headed goal, which proved to be the match-winner, with a tea-sipping gesture while Alyssa Naeher saved an 84th-minute penalty from England’s Steph Houghton.
On Sunday in Lyon, the top-ranked US will face the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final between the Netherlands and Sweden in the Americans’ third-straight appearance in the World Cup decider.
Phil Neville’s side headed to Lyon with dreams of becoming the first senior England team – male or female – to contest a World Cup final since 1966 but the Lionesses’ third penalty miss of the tournament – this one in front of 53,512 fans at Stade de Lyon – proved costly.
Christen Press, who was in the starting line-up in place of the injured Megan Rapinoe, put the US ahead with a header in the 10th minute before Ellen White’s goal drew England level in the 19th minute.
Morgan’s sixth goal of the tournament came before the break – and on her 30th birthday.
She hadn’t had a goal since she scored five in the 13-0 rout of Thailand in her team’s tournament opener.
It was also White’s sixth goal but Morgan has the edge for the tournament’s Golden Boot with three assists.
White had the ball in the net again in the 69th minute but video review determined she was offside.
England were then the beneficiaries of a second VAR intervention, when White was awarded a penalty after Becky Sauerbrunn made contact with her trailing leg in the box.
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However, captain Houghton – on spot-kick duty after Nikita Parris missed England’s last two – produced a poor effort from 12 yards, with Naeher making the save low to her right.
To further sour England’s night, Millie Bright was sent off late for a second yellow card.
United States coach Jill Ellis told the BBC: “We had some challenges and everyone stepped up and that’s what this team is about so just incredibly proud of them.”
On her message to the squad Ellis said: “First I said we’ve got four days in between (games) this time so this will help, I just said stay humble we’ve got one more.”
Neville said there should be no tears from his England players after their exit.
“My players give me everything. We said before the game we wanted to leave our hearts and souls on that pitch and they did, they gave everything,” he told the BBC.
England will play off for third on Saturday in Nice.