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It’s a USA v England semi-final: Two big hitters get set for pan-Atlantic battle

The United States soccer team’s performance last night means it looks set to be a serious pan-Atlantic battle in the Women’s World Cup final. 

The team will face England on Tuesday in the Lyon semi-final after their 2-1 victory over the host nation, France, that was pushed through by captain Megan Rapinoe after she scored both their goals.

The champion footballer looks set to cause yet more headaches for her opponents after she netted a goal within the first five minutes of yesterday’s game and scored the second goal in her team’s 2 – 1 victory over Spain on Monday. 

She has also quarrelled with President Donald Trump after saying she would refuse to visit the White House should the team come home with the trophy and refusing to sing the national anthem.

But England looks likely to use key players including Ellen White, who has already notched up five goals during the tournament, to secure a place in the final.

The team, which has never won a major women’s tournament, beat Norway 3 – 0 in Le Harve on Thursday after goals from Jill Scott, Ellen White and Lucy Bronze.

Their semi-final looks to be their toughest test yet, however, as the American team is top-ranked in the world. 

US players celebrate after winning against host nation France in the Women’s World Cup quarter-final last night. They will face England’s Lionesses on Tuesday in Lyon

England's Lucy Bronze cheers with teammates after scoring the third goal of her team's game against Norway in Le Harve on Thursday. After winning this game the team also went through to the semi-finals

England’s Lucy Bronze cheers with teammates after scoring the third goal of her team’s game against Norway in Le Harve on Thursday. After winning this game the team also went through to the semi-finals

Team captain Megan Rapinoe helped the United States women's national soccer team jump out to an early 1-0 lead in Friday's World Cup quarterfinal matchup with France

Team captain Megan Rapinoe helped the United States women’s national soccer team jump out to an early 1-0 lead in Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal matchup with France

France's goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (C) concedes the opening goal during the France 2019 Women's World Cup quarter-final football match between France and USA

France’s goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (C) concedes the opening goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup quarter-final football match between France and USA 

Rapinoe (right), who previously knelt during the national anthem, once again refused to place her hand over her heart or sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' before Friday's game. However, several other members of the team and coaching staff refrained from singing or placing their hands over their hearts, as well. Rapinoe's anthem etiquette has been a source of controversy

Rapinoe (right), who previously knelt during the national anthem, once again refused to place her hand over her heart or sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before Friday’s game. However, several other members of the team and coaching staff refrained from singing or placing their hands over their hearts, as well. Rapinoe’s anthem etiquette has been a source of controversy

Rapinoe celebrates with her family following Friday's 2-1 win over France in Paris

Rapinoe celebrates with her family following Friday’s 2-1 win over France in Paris 

‘This team is unreal,’ Rapinoe told Fox Sports after the game.   

‘That was quadruple the amount of grit,’ she said, describing the team’s efforts. 

‘You have to give it up to the French team. I think they outplayed us for sure with the ball today, but we were so good today defensively, so strong. We hit them where it hurt. We took our chances. Unreal amount of heart.’

‘This is what it’s all about,’ she added. 

‘We’re moving on into the semis, into the medal rounds. We’ll enjoy this one for sure. This is so special, to be able to beat the host nation in the Parc des Princes. You can’t ask for anything more than this.’

U.S. coach Jill Ellis described Rapinoe as ‘fantastic’ after the game.   

‘She’s lived this moment,’ Ellis said. ‘She’s been here. Just the calibre play that she brings to this team and the leadership, it’s fantastic.’

France was vying to become the first nation to simultaneously hold the men’s and women’s World Cup trophies, but the home-field advantage and the flag-waving crowd that belted out La Marseillaise didn’t faze the ever-confident U.S. team.

Grace Geyoro consoles teammate Eve Perisset of France following their team's defeat

Grace Geyoro consoles teammate Eve Perisset of France following their team’s defeat

France's forward Eugenie Le Sommer walks off the pitch after the narrow, 2-1, loss to the U.S.

France’s forward Eugenie Le Sommer walks off the pitch after the narrow, 2-1, loss to the U.S.

‘It did live up to expectations, I’m happy to say that,’ U.S. star Alex Morgan said. 

Rapinoe has five goals for the tournament, tying her with Morgan, England’s Ellen White and Australia’s Sam Kerr. (All five of Morgan’s goals came in a record-breaking performance in the Group F opener against Thailand) 

She may not be going to the White House, but one Wikipedia editor thinks Megan Rapinoe should be president after her two-goal effort

She may not be going to the White House, but one Wikipedia editor thinks Megan Rapinoe should be president after her two-goal effort

Heath nearly scored in the 75th minute on Friday, but the U.S. was called offside on the would-be goal. 

France’s Wendie Renard scored a header off a free kick in the 81st minute to cut America’s lead in half, leading to a tense ending to a competitive game in which the U.S. was out-possessed, 61 percent to 39. 

‘You have to give it up to the French team. They outplayed us for sure with the ball today,’ said Rapinoe.

‘But we were so good defensively, so strong. We hit them where it hurt, we took our chances. This team has an unreal amount of heart,’ she added.

The French nearly scored in the 57th minute, but Eugénie Le Sommer misfired from nearly point blank range. Her teammate Kadidiatou Diani had a chance on a break moments later, but U.S. defender Crystal Dunn deflected the shot to retain the lead. 

American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was stellar in the second half against France, fighting off a flurry of attempts until Renard’s header. 

Rapinoe has five goals for the tournament, tying her with Morgan, England's Ellen White and Australia's Sam Kerr. (All five of Morgan's goals came in a record-breaking performance in the Group F opener against Thailand)

Rapinoe has five goals for the tournament, tying her with Morgan, England’s Ellen White and Australia’s Sam Kerr. (All five of Morgan’s goals came in a record-breaking performance in the Group F opener against Thailand)

Rapinoe, who scored both of America's goals in the team's previous win over Spain, put the U.S. up 2-0 on a secondary break in the 65th minute after getting a perfect cross from teammate Tobin Heath and scoring easily

Rapinoe, who scored both of America’s goals in the team’s previous win over Spain, put the U.S. up 2-0 on a secondary break in the 65th minute after getting a perfect cross from teammate Tobin Heath and scoring easily

Wendie Renard scored a header off a free kick in the 81st minute to cut America's lead in half

Wendie Renard scored a header off a free kick in the 81st minute to cut America’s lead in half

Rapinoe has been at the centre of controversy this week after a previously recorded interview was published in which she says she would ‘not visit the f***ing White House’ if the U.S. goes on to win the World Cup.

Her comments were made just a day after the president said her refusal to sing the national anthem or place her hand on her heart during its playing before matches was inappropriate.  

On Thursday, the day before the match, she said she stood by her comments, except the coarse language.

‘I stand by the comments that I made about not wanting to go to the White House with exception of the expletive,’ she said. ‘My mom will be very upset about that.’

Rapinoe even suggested the uproar might help her team.

‘I think, if anything, it just fires everybody up a little bit more,’ she said.  

Rapinoe, who is a lesbian, is one of the most outspoken athletes representing America and has described herself as a ‘walking protest’ to Trump’s policies.

‘I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,’ Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports in May. ‘Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not. So it’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him. 

‘Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing.’ 

France's midfielder Gaetane Thiney and U.S. midfielder Samantha Mexis get tangled up

France’s midfielder Gaetane Thiney and U.S. midfielder Samantha Mexis get tangled up 

Megan Rapinoe of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's first goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match at Parc des Princes

Megan Rapinoe of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s first goal during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Quarter Final match at Parc des Princes

Megan Rapinoe (L) fights for the ball with France's goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi

Megan Rapinoe (L) fights for the ball with France’s goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi

American and French soccer fans sing prior to Friday's World Cup quarterfinal matchup

American and French soccer fans sing prior to Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal matchup 

In a tweet initially directed at the wrong Megan Rapinoe, President Donald Trump responded to the U.S. national women's soccer team captain's recent assertion that she is 'not going to the f***ing White House' if the team wins the ongoing World Cup in France

In a tweet initially directed at the wrong Megan Rapinoe, President Donald Trump responded to the U.S. national women’s soccer team captain’s recent assertion that she is ‘not going to the f***ing White House’ if the team wins the ongoing World Cup in France 

Although Trump's initial tweet was deleted, he did continue along that thread, taking credit for improving the economy voicing his support for the U.S. team. He even wrote that he would invite U.S women's national team to the White House, win or lose, but that Rapinoe 'should WIN first before she TALKS!'

Although Trump’s initial tweet was deleted, he did continue along that thread, taking credit for improving the economy voicing his support for the U.S. team. He even wrote that he would invite U.S women’s national team to the White House, win or lose, but that Rapinoe ‘should WIN first before she TALKS!’

In the semi-finals England faces one of their toughest games yet, with odds 19/4 of them winning compared to the USA 9/10 prediction.

Team Manager Phil Neville said the Lionesses wanted to ‘inspire and to build a legacy’.

‘We had a camp last year and we set out the objectives for the next 12 months, and all I wanted them to say was ‘win the World Cup’.

‘But they were thinking bigger than winning a World Cup, which knocked me in my stride a little bit.

‘We want the Lionesses to have a name that people around the world can relate to… badass women. That’s our mantra’.

Although never winning a major trophy, the team is now entering its third consecutive semi-final.

They reached the last four in 2015 and the Euro last four in 2017 under former boss Marl Sampson.

When England last played against the US they drew 2 -2 on their way to winning the title.

Rapinoe was the first national team member of any sport to kneel in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick – a frequent target of Trump’s since he began protesting inequality by kneeling during the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’

Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since March of 2017, but other players have continued protesting before games in his place.  

After Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem, the United States Soccer Federation adopted a policy that requires players to stand during the anthem.

Now she stands, but she has been criticised for not singing or putting her hand over her heart like other players. (On Friday, other U.S. women’s national team players and coaches could be seen either refraining from singing or neglecting to put their hands over their hearts, but it remains unclear if they were making any political statement)

Since the Women’s World Cup began earlier this month in France, Rapinoe stuck to her resolve not to sing the national anthem. Her decision ignited criticism of her on social media.

As Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports, she will ‘probably never sing or honour the national anthem again’.

‘I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.’

Rapinoe (right) was the first national team member of any sport to kneel in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick – a frequent target of Trump's since he began protesting inequality by kneeling during the 'Star Spangled Banner.' Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since March of 2017, but other players have continued protesting before games in his place. After Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem, the United States Soccer Federation adopted a policy that requires players to stand during the anthem

Rapinoe (right) was the first national team member of any sport to kneel in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick – a frequent target of Trump’s since he began protesting inequality by kneeling during the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since March of 2017, but other players have continued protesting before games in his place. After Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem, the United States Soccer Federation adopted a policy that requires players to stand during the anthem

Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan (right) of the USA share a laugh on the pitch prior to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal match against France

Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan (right) of the USA share a laugh on the pitch prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match against France 

U.S. fans seen posing before Friday's quarterfinal match against host nation France

U.S. fans seen posing before Friday’s quarterfinal match against host nation France 

Both teams were seen emphasizing water breaks during stoppages on Friday as Paris remains in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave. At kickoff, the local temperature was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Midfielder Lindsey Horan was not in the starting lineup on Friday, but she would later be subbed in during the second half. 

American fans seen wearing patriotic makeup ahead of the World Cup quarterfinal

American fans seen wearing patriotic makeup ahead of the World Cup quarterfinal

It was the second straight match that Horan did not start, although she came in as a substitute in the 89th minute of the United States’ 2-1 victory over Spain.

Coach Jill Ellis stuck with the starters she used against Spain, replacing Horan in the midfield with Sam Mewis. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath were up top, with Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz in the midfield.

Naeher and defender Abby Dahlkemper both made their fifth straight starts in France. Becky Sauerbrunn was at center back for the third straight game alongside Dahlkemper, with Kelley O’Hara on the right and Crystal Dunn on the left.

Having previously won three World Cups, the Americans were the favourites entering the tournament, and have looked every bit the part. After their record-breaking 13-0 win over Thailand in the Group F opener – when they were widely criticised for elaborately celebrating each of their goals – the U.S. women have gone on to beat Chile and rival Sweden by a combined 5-0.

Two penalty kicks from Rapinoe helped propel the U.S. to a win over upstart Spain in the round of 16 on Monday.

Jessica McDonald of the USA with her son prior to Friday's quarterfinal match against France

Jessica McDonald of the USA with her son prior to Friday’s quarterfinal match against France

Before the game captain Megan Rapinoe was seen interacting with fans at Parc des Princes, some of whom donned hats made to look like the country's national bird, the bald eagle

Before the game captain Megan Rapinoe was seen interacting with fans at Parc des Princes, some of whom donned hats made to look like the country’s national bird, the bald eagle

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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