The USWNT marches on at the Women’s World Cup and is ready for Friday’s quarterfinal matchup against France, the event’s host. It’s an epic soccer clash to highlight an epic World Cup.
After Megan Rapinoe tallied two penalty kicks in a slim 2-1 win over Spain in the Round of 16, Team USA will need its best effort against what could be its stiffest competition at the World Cup thus far in France.
France beat the USWNT 3-1 in a friendly match earlier this year. But Team USA wasn’t necessarily at full strength — or speed — for that matchup.
USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour is on the scene and will provide updates and analysis.
FINAL: USA 2, FRANCE 1
END OF GAME: U.S. is in the Women’s World Cup semifinals for the eight consecutive time after a narrow 2-1 defeat of France. The Americans were opportunistic with their chances as the French controlled most of the ball but couldn’t find a way through.
Megan Rapinoe was again the lone U.S. scorer with two goals for the second consecutive knockout game. That was enough even though France made things interesting with a late goal. A questionable referee decision to negate a possible U.S. handball in the box in the final minutes will haunt the French, who had seized momentum and missed what should have been an opportunity for a tying goal.
England is up next for the Americans and there are still some concerns about the defense giving the ball away too frequently. The U.S. weren’t hurt in this quarterfinal. But things could be different on Tuesday.
90TH MINUTE: Clock continues to wind down with the U.S. clinging to its lead. Last few minutes have been back and forth with little happening in front of either goal. Five minutes of stoppage time upcoming.
85TH MINUTE: U.S. now clearly on their back heels as France is pouring forward with pressure. The Americans struggling to hold possession and it’s causing problems.
A shot by France goes off Kelly O’Hara’s arm but it’s ruled not be a hand ball in the box. Fortunate decision for the U.S. there. No VAR review given.
FRANCE GOAL, 81TH MINUTE: And we have a game again. After a bad foul by the U.S. results in a dangerous free kick. A beautiful delivery by Gaëtane Thiney is headed in by an unmarked Wendie Renard. No chance for U.S. goalie Alyssa Nahler there. Still time as the momentum is now on the French side.
79TH MINUTE: American goalie Alyssa Nahler is forced into action with a side volley by Eugénie Le Sommer that requires her to tip the shot over the bar. U.S. deals with the ensuing corner well and the threat is neutralized.
75TH MINUTE: U.S. puts one in the back of the net as Crystal Dunn delivers a beautiful cross and Tobin Heath fires the ball into the goal. But Dunn is ruled offside by the smallest of margins. That would have been the dagger for France, but it still has hope if it can get a goal soon.
Delphine Cascarino replaces Valérie Gauvin up front to provide a new attacking option as France tries to cut the deficit.
70TH MINUTE: France continues to press forward, yet is still stymied by the U.S. defense that has now packed back to protect its 2-0 lead. The French keep winning back possession, but it’s only options are wide and the ensuing crosses have been easily dealt with by the Americans.
U.S. GOAL, 65TH MINUTE: And the U.S. extends its lead with another goal by Megan Rapinoe – her fifth of the tournament. A turnover in the French half leads to an Alex Morgan through ball to Tobin Heath. Heath’s cross finds a streaking Rapinoe alone in front of the goal. She buries it for a 2-0 lead.
A big hill now for France to climb with its offense sputtering and in need of two goals to force overtime. Some subs from the bench should be coming soon.
63RD MINUTE: Lindsey Horan for Rose Lavelle is the first substitution of the game. Horan’s entrance should help the Americans in the midfield as the French have continued to control possession.
On the ensuing restart, U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher was forced to make her first save with a diving effort on a Valérie Gauvin header.
59TH MINUTE: More pressure from France as continues Kadidiatou Diani beats Crystal Dunn and delivers a dangerous cross that had U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher sprawling to cover the far post. Eugénie Le Sommer had a chance to find the open net when the ball fell to her but her shot missed wide.
54TH MINUTE: Some signs of life for France with corner won after some nice interplay among its attack. Ultimately, Eugénie Le Sommer’s header goes wide of the goal. Game back into the pattern of the first half where the French control possession and the U.S. looks to counter.
50TH MINUTE: Multiple subs already warming up for France. An early change would make sense as the French still haven’t found a way to connect in the attack. No shots on goal for them as the U.S. defense has kept them away from dangerous positions.
46TH MINUTE: And just like that, the U.S. threatens as France goalie Sarah Bouhaddi is forced to dive to her left to make a save on a shot by Sam Mewis and then Tobin Heath’s rebound attempt requires Bouhaddi to make a kick save for a corner.
START OF SECOND HALF: No changes as teams could out of the locker room. Next 45 minutes – or longer – will determine the team that advances.
HALFTIME: United States is holding a 1-0 lead after early goal by Megan Rapinoe. The Americans have managed to shut down everything France has tried, but some of that is on France. It had struggled last four games and this is more of the same. Failing to connect passes, coughing up ball. French have had almost 60% of the ball but have no shots on goal. Meanwhile, the Americans have five shots, though all but the Rapinoe goal have come from long range and haven’t been troublesome.
U.S. defense reminding me of a bend-don’t-break in the NFL. Not great, but good enough. Need to clean up the giveaways in their half that have allowed France some opportunities. So far the French haven’t taken advantage.
Will be curious to see what Jill Ellis does with her substitutions, especially with Alex Morgan again not looking like her usual self in the first 45 minutes.
40th MINUTE: France free kick after Kelley O’Hara runs full-speed into Amel Majri. Didn’t look intentional but a foul is a foul. Mewis, who has been quietly really, really good, cleared ball with a header.
32nd MINUTE: France gets second corner kick in three minutes but Amandine Henry skies it. Wendie Renard is their best on set pieces — tallest player in the tournament at 6-foot-2 — but US bottled her up on both corners.
31st MINUTE: Alex Morgan was down, I’m not sure if it was her head, her eye or what and replays weren’t clear. But she’s back up and waiting to come back in.
19th MINUTE: France is going after Rapinoe HARD. Third time this game she’s been on the ground after a tackle.
U.S. GOAL, 5th MINUTE: Goal by, who else, Megan Rapinoe. What, you thought the brouhaha the last two days was going to rattle her?
US got free kick after Griedge Mbock Bathy was given a yellow for yanking on Alex Morgan. Pinoe basically skipped it into the net, the ball going through Amandine Henry’s legs and there were too many bodies in front of Sarah Bouhaddi for her to even have a chance.
TWO MINUTES TO KICKOFF: Don’t ask me who wins this, I honestly don’t know. I can make arguments for both teams. All I know is that seeing this — sold-out stadium, fans just out of their minds — for a women’s soccer game is amazing. And it’s not even the final.
30 MINUTES TO KICKOFF: It is already LOUD here at Parc des Princes. Chants of “Allez Les Bleues!” echoing throughout the stadium, but U.S. fans making themselves heard. Split was supposed to be about 30,000 French fans to 10,000 US fans. But not sure. Look to be more Americans than that and the American Outlaws, the main U.S. supporter group, filled the streets around the stadium.
Couple of things to watch:
Lindsey Horan is NOT starting, which is … interesting. Horan played in France for a little over three years, right here in Paris, in fact, and no one knows the French team better.
It was hot here today — temperatures in the 90s — but there’s a breeze and no humidity. Temperatures have been dropping around 8 or 9 p.m. the last few days and, when they do, it’s actually quite pleasant.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Cup live updates: USA Soccer vs. France in quarterfinals