LYON (AFP) – Alex Morgan scored what proved to be the winner but hailed goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher after her late penalty save from Steph Houghton allowed the United States to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory over England in their women’s World Cup semifinal on Tuesday.
On her 30th birthday, USA co-captain Morgan headed home just after the half-hour mark in this last-four showdown to put her team back in front after Ellen White had cancelled out Christen Press’s early opener.
But after an open first 45 minutes, the second half was dominated by more VAR controversy, with England having another White goal disallowed for the tightest of offside calls following a review by the Brazilian referee.
Phil Neville’s team later benefited from Edina Alves Batista’s decision to award them a spot-kick when Becky Sauerbrunn made the slightest of contact with White in the box, yet Houghton’s kick was stopped by Naeher diving low to her right.
England finished with 10 players after Millie Bright was sent off for a second yellow card late on, and the USA held out, despite playing the whole match without Megan Rapinoe.
Scorer of all four US goals in the previous two rounds, the 33-year-old played no part due to a hamstring injury.
They will now go on to face Sweden or the Netherlands in Sunday’s final, as they aim to win the trophy for the fourth time in eight editions.
In contrast, it is another bitterly disappointing way for England to lose, as they go out of a third consecutive major tournament in the semi-finals. Their players cut dejected figures on the pitch at full-time.