USA shattered Australian medal dreams in a 4-3 thriller to clinch bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.
A finishing masterclass from decorated international Megan Rapinoe put USA 2-1 up within the first 25 minutes, with an untouchable first time volley stunning the Australian keeper after she had inadvertently found the net direct from a corner kick.
Goals from WSL starlets Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord teased the idea of a comeback for Australia, but on both occasions, hope was almost instantly crushed by the unstoppable force of the US attack.
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Like Rapinoe, 39-year-old Carli Lloyd slotted home two emphatic finishes for USA, with Christen Press proving instrumental in assisting both goals.
A sublime late strike from substitution Emily Gielnik pushed the scoreline to 4-3 with just minutes to go, but it came too late on in the game.
USA emerged deserved winners on the day, and claim a bronze medal for the first time in history.
USA slo Australia 4-3
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - TOO LITTLE TOO LATE FOR USA
Although the narrow 4-3 score line may suggest the clash was fairly evenly matched, anyone who watched the game would agree that USA dominated play for the majority of the game.
Vlatko Andonovski’s side showcased the character and talent that the global stage is used to, something that has been notably missing throughout the tournament.
What proved crucial to USA success today was the attacking prowess of Rapinoe, Press and Lloyd, all players that were not introduced in the semi-final loss until the second half, and even then, they changed the game shortly before Fleming’s penalty strike.
Megan Rapinoe (r.) gewinnt mit USA Bronze
Image credit: Getty Images
Had Andonovski opted to start the attacking three in the clash against Canada, the USWNT may have stood a better chance of securing a ticket to the battle for gold.
That being said, rotation is common within the demanding Olympic schedule, and was especially relevant to a USA side with far more senior players than other contesting teams.
Perhaps today’s feisty performance was a welcomed act of frustration from the USA players, and a gentle reminder that they are ranked world No.1 for a reason.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - MEGAN RAPINOE (USA)
Player of the match could have been gifted to either one of the attacking three up top for USA, but Rapinoe’s finishing warrants recognition.
Claiming her 186th cap, the 36-year-old proved just how clinical she is in front of goal, with her sublime first-time volley silencing Sam Kerr’s equaliser in perfect timing and fashion.
Aside from the two goals, Rapinoe was a contributing presence throughout her shift on the pitch and provided class and composure in set pieces and open play.
USA: Franch (7), Dunn (8), Davidson (8), Sauerbrunn (8), O’Hara (8), Ertz (8), S.Mewis (7), Horan (9), Rapinoe (9), Lloyd (9), Press (9). Subs: Heath (7), Morgan (6), Sonnett (8), Lavelle (8)
Australia: Micah (6), Kerr (8), Polkinghorne (7), Logarzo (7), Catley (7), Foord (8), Van Egmond (7), Yallop (7), Kennedy (7), Raso (8), Simon (8). Subs: Gielnik (9), Cooney-Cross (8), Fowler (7), Nevin (8)
8' GOAL! USA 1-0 Australia (Rapinoe): Rapinoe scores from a corner kick! The forward whips in a teasing ball, heavy with both speed and spin. Keeper Micah fails to palm the ball away as it flies beyond her, and the balls curls into the far corner of the goal. Fantastic corner, but both the keeper and Australian defence will be disappointed with that one.
17' GOAL! USA 1-1 Australia (Kerr): Kerr at it again! Foord slots a clinical through ball between the USA defence which Kerr runs on to. Kerr strikes the ball low, and it ricochets off Franch and into the back of the net.
18' KERR COMES CLOSE... The Chelsea forward forces a fantastic save out of Franch, as her header is palmed over the bar.
21' GOAL! USA 2-1 Australia (Rapinoe): Rapinoe is on fire! Following a clumsy clearance from Australia the ball falls the Rapinoe. The forward volleys the ball effortlessly into the far left corner and beyond Micah. Absolutely sublime finish.
45+1' GOAL! USA 3-1 Australia (Lloyd): Another fantastic finish, this time it's Lloyd. Horan does extremely well to fight off Egmond and slots a ball through to Lloyd. Lloyd's first touch takes the ball away from the defender and she fires an inch perfect strike past Micah and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
51' GOAL! USA 4-1 Australia (Lloyd): Lloyd makes it four! Again, Press with another assist. Press loops a high ball over the back four, which Kennedy deals with poorly and ends up heading towards goal but there's not enough on it. Llloyd pounces, and slots the ball coolly through the legs of Micah.
53' GOAL! USA 4-2 Australia (Foord): Foord headers home for Australia. A fantastic cross from Simon finds Foord in ach res of space, the forward produces a sublime header that succeeds Franch and flies into the top right corner of the goal.
56' KERR HITS THE POST! Kerr rattles the post with a glancing header. Just inches away from closing the gap. What a game this is.
89' GOAL! USA 4-3 Australia (Gielnik): What did I say about Gielnik! The forward drives into a pocket of space in front of the USA box and produces a sublime strike that curls left and past Micah. Do not rule this Australian side out just yet..
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