The semi finals kicked off with a match perhaps worthy of a final, as the USA saw off a determined England in Lyon after a thrilling contest.

 

ENGLAND VS USA

There was a pre-game shock as USA talisman Megan Rapinoe, scorer of all four of her team’s goals in the knockout stages, was named on the bench. The midfielder did not even join her teammates for the warm-up, casting further doubt on her potential involvement in the match.

The defending champions seemed unfazed by this loss though, pushing hard early and imposing themselves upon the English defence. This heavy pressure yielded an opening goal after just ten minutes.

A sweeping USA move across the field and a gorgeous dummy from Rose Lavelle created space for the overlapping Kelley O’Hara on the right flank. O’Hara’s cross to the far post was met by a thumping header from Christen Press, powering the ball past Carly Telford and into the back of the net.

The shock of going behind seemed to steady England, and they regained some composure in the midfield as Jill Scott and Keira Walsh got into the game. The Lionesses would go on to find an equaliser with their first shot of the match.

A brilliant cross-field ball from Walsh found the feet of Beth Mead on the left, and her curling cross was directed into the top corner by Ellen White for the striker’s sixth goal of the tournament.

However, the USA would hit back before half time, and it was once again a cross that provided the chance. Lindsey Horan was given enough space in the midfield to loft a pinpoint delivery over the defensive line, Alex Morgan producing a clinical headed finish.

The second half started in a scrappy manner as the Americans looked to disrupt the attacking flow of the English. Press intercepted a pass from Telford as the goalkeeper attempted to play out from defence, but she rushed her shot and skewed it wide of the goal.

With just over twenty minutes played in the second half, it looked as though White had equalised once again after being played through by Jill Scott. However, English joy turned to despair as VAR intervened, replays showing the striker a half step offside.

It seemed a cruel blow to the Lionesses, but opportunity shone upon them in the closing stages. VAR picked up a foul on White in the box, handing captain Steph Houghton the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. However, USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stepped up at the crucial moment, diving well to her right to save the spot-kick.

Adding insult to injury, the Lionesses went down to ten players a few minutes later, as Millie Bright was dismissed following a second yellow card.

With their big game experience and a numerical advantage, the reigning champions were able to close out the match and move on to the final.

England 1 (White 19′)

USA 2 (Press 10′, Morgan 31′)