Captain Carli Lloyd had a sensational hat trick (3 goals), including a goal all the way from the halfway line, as the United States roared to a shocking 4-0 lead in the Women’s World Cup and easily held on to beat defending champion Japan, 5-2, in Vancouver, Canada.
No team had ever scored more than two goals in a Women’s World Cup final, but Lloyd went one better all by herself within just 16 minutes.
The opener came in the third minute when Megan Rapinoe drove a low diagonal ball across the area and Lloyd timed her run to perfection, meeting the ball with a powerful, first-time drive past Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.
Japan was stunned when two minutes later Lloyd doubled the lead.
Another low ball into the box did the damage, this time from a Lauren Holiday free kick that the Japan defense failed to clear. The ball fell to Lloyd, who drove it into the opposing net.
The Japanese team barely had time to regroup before finding itself down 3-0 in the 14th minute, when an attempted clearance from Azusa Iwashimizu fell to Holiday on the edge of the box, and she blasted it into the net.
Japan conceded as many goals in the opening 14 minutes as it had in the previous six games of the tournament.
United States’ Carli Lloyd (3-L) celebrates with teammates, including goalkeeper Hope Solo (1), after Lloyd scored her third goal against Japan during the first half of the Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, Canada, July 5, 2015.
Lloyd stuns Japan with 2nd goal
Two minutes later came one of the most remarkable goals ever witnessed in a Women’s World Cup when Lloyd, gathering the ball in her own half, saw Kaihori far off her line and shot from the halfway line. The scrambling Japanese goalkeeper was only able to touch the ball onto the post and into the net.
Japan got on board with a goal from Yuki Ogimi, cutting its deficit to 4-1 and ending the U.S. streak of not allowing a goal for 540 minutes. The Americans had not allowed a goal since the opening match of the tournament against Australia.
Ogimi scored just before the half-hour mark when she out-positioned Julie Johnston for a cross into the U.S. penalty area and beat American goalkeeper Hope Solo with a left-footed shot.
Japan cut the deficit to 4-2 in the 52nd minute when U.S. defender Julie Johnston’s header went past goalkeeper Solo and into the American net.
But the U.S. responded shortly thereafter with Morgan Brian laying off a pass into the middle of the box for Heath. She scored off a scramble for a 5-2 lead.
The seven combined goals in Sunday’s match are the most ever in a Women’s World Cup final.
With this victory, the Americans avenged their loss to Japan in the 2011 final and earned a record third Women’s World Cup title.