REIMS, FRANCE – Megan Rapinoe converted a pair of penalty kicks and the United States set up a much-anticipated quarterfinal meeting with host France at the Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Spain on Monday.
Rapinoe’s first came in the seventh minute to the cheers of the U.S. supporters melting in temperatures that reached nearly 30 C at the Stade Auguste-Delaune. They were quieted a short time later when Jennifer Hermoso tied it up for Spain with the first goal the Americans had allowed in France.
Video review was used to confirm a foul on Rose Lavelle that gave the pink-haired captain the game-winner in the 75th minute, spoiling Spain’s spirited effort in its first knockout-round appearance at a World Cup.
The defending champions head to Paris to face France on Friday night. The French defeated Brazil 2-1 in extra time on Sunday night, with Amandine Henry scoring the game-winner in the 107th minute.
“When you get out into the knockout round it’s always so much more pressure and so much more tense out there. Everything matters. Every play matters. Every wave of the game is important,” Rapinoe said. “So I think halfway through the second half it was like, ‘We have to take it up a notch.’ Obviously quite a few of us have been there in these big games and realize those moments and that experience was really good for us today.”
A meeting between the three-time World Cup champions and the hosts at the home of Paris Saint-Germain has been anticipated since the tournament draw in December. France is vying to become the first nation to simultaneously hold both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles. The French men won in Russia last year.
Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl made a brilliant second-half penalty save as her country edged out Canada 1-0 in Paris.
A second-half goal scored by Stina Blackstenius, superbly set up by Kosovare Asllani provided the margin over victory for Sweden, which will face Germany in the quarters.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5