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Rapinoe powers US into World Cup semis

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Inside a packed and sweltering Parc des Princes, the U.S. team battled past 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup host France and into the tournament semifinals with a 2-1 victory in front of 45,595 fans. Megan Rapinoe scored both goals for the Americans, one in each half, as the USA withstood a late France surge to keep their World Cup title hopes on track. The crowd was one of the most electric in Women's World Cup history with the American fans coming out in droves to help push the USA to victory.

The U.S. Women became the only nation to advance to the semifinals of all eight Word Cups that have been contested. Rapinoe's two goals gave her five during the World Cup, tying her for most in the tournament with Alex Morgan.

The U.S. will next take on an impressive England team that defeated Norway 3-0 in the opening game of the quarterfinal round on Thursday. Kickoff for the USA-England semifinal at Stade de Lyon is set for 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 2, and the game will be broadcast on FOX and Telemundo.

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis fielded the same starting XI that defeated Spain 2-1 in the Round of 16 with the continuity paying off in midfield as Rose Lavelle (and later Lindsey Horan), Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis put in an epic shift while consistently helping stymie the France attack before it could get in dangerous areas.

When France did advance into the final third, outside backs Crystal Dunn and Kelley O'Hara, and center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper were in the right places at the right times to shut down Les Bleues talented attackers, with Dunn in particular limiting Kadidiatou Diani's influence on the game. France had 20 shots but put just five on goal while the USA put eight of it's 10 shots on frame.

The match opened with a bang as Ertz sent an early missile straight at France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi inside the first minute. The opening salvo was a sign of things to come as the USA's furious start led the opening goal when Morgan was brought down by Griedge Mbock Bathy, earning the France defender a yellow card and the U.S. a free kick deep on the left wing just outside the penalty area.

From the set piece, Rapinoe whipped in a low cross on frame that ripped through traffic, through the legs of France captain Amandine Henry and past a screened Bouhaddi for a fifth minute lead. It was the third time in its last three games the U.S. took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

The U.S. carried the lead into half time after ceding the majority of possession to France, which was unable to put any of its six shots on target during the first half. Immediately after the restart, Mewis, on a shot from distance, and then Tobin Heath on the rebound, tested Bouhaddi who had to concede a corner kick from which Morgan saw a goal-bound shot blocked.

The U.S. continued to absorb pressure through the hour mark before Ellis turned to her bench, bringing on Horan in the 63rd minute. Two minutes later Rapinoe scored what would stand as the game winner when Morgan and Heath combined down the right touchline leading to a Heath cross that rolled to a solitary Rapinoe on the back post where she calmly slotted home her fifth goal of the tournament from close range.

Ten minutes later, a dubious offside call on Dunn denied Heath a goal that would have put the USA up 3-0.

Given a reprieve by the assistant referee's flag, France also went to its bench looking for fresh legs to galvanize an attack the U.S. had largely stifled through the first 70 minutes. France, which likely deserved a goal on the night, got it in 81st minute off a free kick that landed on the head of the always dangerous Wendie Renard in the middle of the box and the 6-foot-1 towering defender finished well to pull the home side to within one.

With the end of the match in sight, the U.S. defense stood tall and the attackers salted away the remaining time. Alyssa Naeher had a stellar game in goal while ultimately making four saves as the USA took the sting out of the game in added time by winning a series of free kicks and driving the ball into the corners to haul themselves over the finish line and into the World Cup semifinals.

Lineups:

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O'Hara, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz, 3-Samantha Mewis (10-Carli Lloyd, 82), 16-Rose Lavelle (9-Lindsey Horan, 63); 17-Tobin Heath, 13-Alex Morgan (capt.), 15-Megan Rapinoe (23-Christen Press, 87)

Substitutes not used: 2-Mallory Pugh, 6-Morgan Brian, 11-Ali Krieger, 12-Tierna Davidson, 14-Emily Sonnett, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 20-Allie Long, 21-Adrianna Franch, 22-Jessica McDonald

Head Coach: Jill Ellis

FRA: 16-Sarah Bouhaddi; 4-Marion Torrent, 19-Griedge Mbock Bathy, 3-Wendie Renard, 10-Amel Majri; 6-Amandine Henry, 17-Gaëtane Thiney, 15-Elise Bussaglia; 11-Kadidiatou Diani, 13-Valerie Gauvin (20-Delphine Cascarino, 76), 9-Eugenie Le Sommer (18-Viviane Asseyi, 82)

Substitutes not used: 1-Solene Durand, 21-Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, 2-Eve Perisset, 5-Aissatou Tounkara, 7-Sakina Karchaoui, 8-Grace Geyoro, 12-Emelyne Laurent, 14-Charlotte Bilbault, 22-Julie Debever, 23-Maeva Clemaron

Head Coach: Corinne Diacre

Final Score: USA 2-1 France