USA see off France

USA see off France
By Eurosport

14/07/2011 at 03:52Updated 14/07/2011 at 16:54

USA reached their third World Cup final after withstanding sustained pressure to beat France 3-1 in Moenchengladbach.

Pia Sundhage's side, who took the lead after nine minutes though Lauren Cheney, were outplayed for the majority of the semi-final by a fluid and accomplished France side and looked to be in some trouble following Sonia Bompastor's equaliser after 55 minutes.

However, France, playing their first semi-final, lacked the ruthlessness required to kill off the experienced Americans and were caught out when Abby Wambach scored her 12th goal at a World Cup and substitute Alex Morgan converted with a delightful finish.

USA will now face Japan in their third World Cup final. The team placed first in FIFA's rankings have the chance to win the competition for a third time following victories in 1991 and 1999.

France enjoyed the greater weight of chances in the first half in Moenchengladbach but were undermined by a willingness to shoot from range and a lack of imagination in the final third, playmaker Louisa Necib aside.

They served notice of their intention to shoot on sight in the early exchanges when a corner was worked to Necib, who unleashed a fierce effort from 20 yards that was tipped over the bar by USA goalkeeper Hope Solo.

But after nine minutes it was the twice World Cup winners who found themselves in front thanks to a well-worked move down the left flank. Heather O'Reilly supplied a dangerous cross into the box and Cheney produced a deft touch to turn the ball into the far corner.

Carli Lloyd then headed narrowly wide when getting ahead of Sandrine Soubeyrand at a corner as USA threatened to double their lead, but France's dominance in midfield began to show as they created a succession of chances.

Necib, fearless in possession and hunted down at every opportunity by USA, was the creative hub and released Gaetane Thiney with a lovely sliding pass after half an hour, but Solo raced off her line to get a hand to the subsequent shot.

Then it was Bompastor's turn to test the USA keeper when pouncing on a short free-kick from Necib and rifling a first-time shot over Solo and against the bar from 25 yards.

USA threatened intermittently and Wambach, as usual, was the focal point of their attack. The striker misjudged here header, however, when meeting a deep cross from Christie Rampone at a tight angle, before later firing wide when racing onto a cross from Shannon Boxx.

France's failings continued to haunt them in the second half when Necib supplied a perfectly-weighted through-ball for Thiney, only for the midfielder to take a poor touch and allow Krieger to recover when she seemed certain to score.

However, after 55 minutes France had their equaliser in fortunate circumstances. Bompastor floated in a cross from the left and after Thiney failed to connect with a header by the penalty spot, Solo was caught out and dived desperately to her left in a futile attempt to stop the cross sneaking in at the far post.

Solo, usually so unruffled, was also guilty of a mistake on 67 minutes when she gifted the ball to France in her own box and was fortunate to see Eugenie Le Sommer send her curling effort wide as the substitute failed to capitalise.

Despite producing a lethargic display and looking in danger of being submerged by blue shirts, USA dug deep on 79 minutes to take the lead again. It was Wambach, of course, who bisected the box with a late run to meet a corner as she rose at the back post to power a header past Sapowicz.

France were stunned, and inside three minutes conceded a third as Megan Rapinoe played in Morgan and the substitute produced a delightful dinked finish over Sapowicz and into the far corner.

Morgan almost added a second in the final minutes, only to be denied by a fine save from Sapowicz, but USA had already done just enough to take their place in the World Cup final once again.