From 24 teams to two: here is a recap of the semi-finals for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
USA vs England
In the first match of the week, the Americans defeated the English with a close 2-1 finish to capture their fifth trip to the World Cup final. The U.S. started the scoring with a goal from Christen Press in the 10th minute, quickly followed by an equalizer from England’s Ellen White. While American star Megan Rapinoe was off the pitch due to a hamstring injury, the U.S. were able to regain the lead once more in the 31st minute against the third-ranked Lionesses. The eventual winning goal came from co-captain Alex Morgan, who became the first woman to score in a World Cup on her birthday (30th).
England fought back with a near goal in the second half that was called off due to being offside. Shortly after, they had another chance to tie the match with a penalty kick, but were stopped by U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher. This was the first-ever penalty kick save by a U.S. goalkeeper in the regulation of a World Cup. While a disappointing loss for the English, they still have the bronze match ahead, and look forward to the European Championships in 2021.
Another win for the Americans led U.S. coach Jill Ellis (native of England) to stay undefeated at the World Cup as a coach for Team USA.
Netherlands vs Sweden
After a nail-biting match that ended up in extra time, the Netherlands came away with a 1-0 victory to reach their first-ever World Cup Final. Manchester United midfielder Jackie Groenen scored for the Dutch, bringing the eighth-ranked Netherlands to their chance at the title. While they may never have made the finals before, the Netherlands are the reigning European champions, and have seen much improvement since the last World Cup.
An unfortunate ending for the Swedes who last found themselves in the finals in 2003. There was a scary moment at the games end that led to midfielder Kosovare Asllani being carried off on a stretcher. It is unclear whether she will be available to play in the bronze match.
England and Sweden’s third place match will take place on Saturday July 6th at 11 a.m. ET. The first place match between the U.S. and the Netherlands is Sunday July 7th at 11 a.m. ET. The Americans have won the last six consecutive matches against the Dutch with a 22-2 count, however the two have not faced each other since 2016 before the Netherlands became European Champions.