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The USWNT gets its 4th star with World Cup win over the Netherlands

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Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle starred as the USWNT cemented its standing as the best team in the world.

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

A fourth star is going above the crest on the USWNT jerseys. The United States women’s national team defended its title on Sunday, defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the World Cup final. Megan Rapinoe scored the game’s first goal from the penalty spot, and Rose Lavelle sealed the result with a 69th-minute stunner.

Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was key for the Netherlands throughout their World Cup run, and she had a spectacular first half of the final, coming up with four excellent stops. She denied Julie Ertz on a corner in the 28th minute, then made an outstanding double save 10 minutes later on efforts from Sam Mewis and Alex Morgan.

Morgan was denied again in the 40th minute, with van Veenendaal going full stretch to keep the score tied.

Just before halftime, American right back Kelley O’Hara and Dutch attacker Lieke Martens collided in the air, bumping heads. Martens was able to continue, but O’Hara had to leave the match, and was replaced by Ali Krieger at halftime.

The match stayed just as physical at the start of the second half, and Becky Sauerbrunn got the worst of another head-to-head collision. Strangely, the referee let play continue while Sauerbrunn looked like this.

The USWNT struggled to break through the physical Dutch defense until the 58th minute, when the Americans won a penalty. Referee Stéphanie Frappart initially didn’t see Stefanie van der Gragt’s high boot on Alex Morgan, but the VAR official called for a review. Frappart changed her decision after going to look at the monitor, and Rapinoe converted from the penalty spot.

That goal caused the Netherlands to start taking risks going forward, and that was just what the American attack was waiting for. With more Oranje midfielders bombing forward, Lavelle had more space to operate in, and she capitalized in the 69th minute. No one closed her down as she dribbled at the goal, and she split the Dutch defenders before placing a perfect shot past van Veenendaal.

The final 20 minutes resembled a track meet, with both teams having multiple chances to score, but a third American goal always looked more likely than a Netherlands comeback. Unlike their other knockout games, where they bunkered after their second goal, the Americans kept their foot on the accelerator. Only an outstanding performance by van Veenendaal kept the score close.

At the final whistle, the USWNT sprinted around the field in celebration while the Netherlands players collapsed to the ground.

Now, on to more important things.