Women's World Cup - Round of 16
Spain1USA2

Women's World Cup 2019: Megan Rapinoe scores twice as USA struggle past Spain

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Highlights: Spain 1-2 USA

The United States came through a testing last-16 tie against Spain to set up a tantalising Women's World Cup quarter-final against France.

The world's number-one side and pre-tournament favourites were given a scare by the Spaniards but survived the first nervy match of their title defence with a narrow win thanks to two penalties.

Megan Rapinoe's early goal from the spot gave the USA the lead but Spain hit back when Jennifer Hermoso capitalised on a defensive mix-up to equalise brilliantly.

Jill Ellis' side were awarded another penalty in a tense second half, with the decision standing after a lengthy review from the VAR officials; Spain unhappy at what they saw as the soft nature of midfielder Rose Lavelle's tumble in the box.

Rapinoe held her nerve to fire in from the spot for a second time and ensure the holders will face the hosts in Paris on Friday, in what promises to be one of the games of the competition.

A potential semi-final against England could follow, with the winner of the Lionesses' quarter-final against Norway in Le Havre on Thursday set to meet the victors from the USA and France's clash.

Relief for the favourites

Mapi Leon (left) and Tobin Heath
Mapi Leon (left) tripped up Tobin Heath which resulted in Megan Rapinoe's opener

The three-time champions were made to work hard for their last-eight spot, and briefly gave their fans reason to fear they might not extend their record of having always at least reached the semi-finals.

There was a shocked reaction when Hermoso levelled for Spain, as the USA conceded for the first time this summer, having gone 648 minutes of football without letting a goal in since April.

And the USA, who have only lost once since 2017, looked slightly vulnerable in defence under pressure from an improving Spanish outfit.

Nevertheless, the holders created the better chances and were once again strong going forward, with Rapinoe denied by a near-post save in the first half.

The game's decisive moment came as Lavelle poked the ball beyond Virginia Torrecilla in the area and went down.

Hungarian referee Katalin Kulcsar initially awarded the spot-kick without hesitation, before taking a further look at the replay following guidance from her VAR colleagues. She opted to stick with her original call, much to the frustration of the Spain fans at a passion-fuelled Stade Auguste-Delaune.

Brave Spain go home with pride and frustration

Alex Morgan (left)
USA striker Alex Morgan (left) was well marshalled by the Spanish defence

On a hot and humid evening in Reims, Ellis' formidable USA squad were made to sweat by one of the world's improving teams.

Spain - labelled as 6-1 outsiders for this tie by some bookmakers, with the USA 1-10 on - had caused problems as early as the first minute, when Patri Guijarro's shot was blocked by Becky Sauerbrunn.

Playing in only their second World Cup and having reached the knockout stages for the first time, they were led from the back by resolute Paris St-Germain defender Irene Paredes, while Atletico Madrid star Hermoso played a key role in building their counter attacks.

Having finished second in Group B behind Germany, the side ranked 13th in the world will leave France with their heads held high, but with a tinge of frustration at the decision to award the USA's second penalty.

The first spot-kick - which came when Mapi Leon brought down Tobin Heath - was comparably clear cut, but opinions were divided on the significance of the contact made with Lavelle for the crucial second.

Boos rang around the stadium as Spain's fans expressed their dismay at the outcome of the VAR review, but Rapinoe - who replaced Alex Morgan as the USA's penalty-taker during the long pause for the review - was nerveless.

'We were the equals of the world's best team' - what they said

USA head coach Jill Ellis: "There's not flawless soccer to be found in this world. That's part of the game.

"We knew we could be sharper in the final pass, but Spain are a very good team.

"This was a really tricky game - probably the hardest in the last 16. It was good and it has energised our players."

Spain manager Jorge Vilda: "On the pitch, I really feel that we should all be very proud of what we did. I am very proud.

"In terms of competitiveness we've been able to be the equals of the best team in the world. We've been able to give them a run for their money.

"We are a national team that - at the end of the day hasn't walked away with a prize - but we have shown our potential for growth."

'There are so many things to question'

Former United States keeper Hope Solo on BBC Radio 5 Live: "I don't know where to begin. There are so many things to question. You don't always get a perfect win, sometimes it's ugly and sometimes it's hard-fought, which I understand as a player. But at the same time when you have that much attacking prowess, to not get a goal in normal play is concerning. It was two penalties and one I didn't even think was a penalty, and if it was, it was soft.

"If you want to beat the USA you have to press the backline. That's where they are truly vulnerable. It's the decision making, it's the quality of passing and I think there are nerves back there. I don't think they are good enough to keep possession."

USA on the spot again - stats

  • USA have reached the quarter-final stage in every edition of the Women's World Cup between 1991 and 2019; the second nation to achieve this feat alongside Germany (eight).
  • Spain have won just one of their seven matches at the Women's World Cup (W1 D3 L3), with this their first defeat and match in the knockout stage.
  • Only Germany (13) have scored more penalties (excluding shootouts) than USA (11). This is the second Women's World Cup match in which USA netted two penalties (also 26 June 2003 v Nigeria).
  • Rapinoe is just the second player to score two penalties in a single Women's World Cup match after Hermoso v South Africa (also at the 2019 edition).
  • Hermoso scored her first open play goal at the 2019 Women's World Cup, with what was her 13th such attempt Hermoso is Spain's leading scorer in WWC history (three)
  • Rapinoe has been directly involved in 12 goals in her 15 appearances at the Women's World Cup (six goals, six assists).

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

Line-ups

Spain

  • 13Paños
  • 7Corredera
  • 4ParedesBooked at 85mins
  • 16León
  • 3Ouahabi
  • 6LosadaSubstituted forGarcíaat 32'minutes
  • 14TorrecillaSubstituted forCaldenteyat 84'minutes
  • 12Guijarro
  • 17García
  • 10Hermoso
  • 11PutellasSubstituted forFalcónat 79'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gallardo
  • 2Jiménez
  • 5Andrés Sanz
  • 8Torrejón
  • 9Caldentey
  • 15Meseguer
  • 18Bonmatí
  • 19Sampedro
  • 20Pereira
  • 21Falcón
  • 22García
  • 23Quiñones

USA

  • 1Naeher
  • 5O'Hara
  • 7Dahlkemper
  • 4Sauerbrunn
  • 19Dunn
  • 16LavelleSubstituted forHoranat 89'minutes
  • 8Ertz
  • 3Mewis
  • 17Heath
  • 13MorganSubstituted forLloydat 85'minutes
  • 15RapinoeBooked at 37minsSubstituted forPressat 90+7'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Pugh
  • 6Brian
  • 9Horan
  • 10Lloyd
  • 11Krieger
  • 12Davidson
  • 14Sonnett
  • 18Harris
  • 20Long
  • 21Franch
  • 22McDonald
  • 23Press
Referee:
Katalin Kulcsár
Attendance:
19,633

Match Stats

Home TeamSpainAway TeamUSA
Possession
Home45%
Away55%
Shots
Home4
Away10
Shots on Target
Home1
Away2
Corners
Home2
Away3
Fouls
Home18
Away4

Live Text

Match ends, Spain 1, USA 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Spain 1, USA 2.

Substitution

Substitution, USA. Christen Press replaces Megan Rapinoe.

Megan Rapinoe (USA) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Marta Corredera (Spain).

Megan Rapinoe (USA) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Patri Guijarro (Spain).

Carli Lloyd (USA) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Marta Corredera (Spain).

Substitution

Substitution, USA. Lindsey Horan replaces Rose Lavelle.

Corner, USA. Conceded by Leila.

Offside, USA. Megan Rapinoe tries a through ball, but Carli Lloyd is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, USA. Carli Lloyd replaces Alex Morgan.

Booking

Irene Paredes (Spain) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Megan Rapinoe (USA) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Irene Paredes (Spain).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Spain. Mariona replaces Virginia Torrecilla because of an injury.

Delay in match because of an injury Virginia Torrecilla (Spain).

Offside, Spain. Irene Paredes tries a through ball, but Lucía García is caught offside.

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Alex Morgan.

Foul by Abby Dahlkemper (USA).

Andrea Falcón (Spain) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Megan Rapinoe (USA) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Abby Dahlkemper.

Substitution

Substitution, Spain. Andrea Falcón replaces Alexia Putellas.

Goal!

Goal! Spain 1, USA 2. Megan Rapinoe (USA) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

VAR: Penalty Kick. Referee decision on field stands.

Delay in match (USA). VAR checking.

Penalty USA. Rose Lavelle draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Virginia Torrecilla (Spain) after a foul in the penalty area.

Offside, USA. Samantha Mewis tries a through ball, but Megan Rapinoe is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Lucía García (Spain) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Virginia Torrecilla.

Attempt missed. Samantha Mewis (USA) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Megan Rapinoe.

Attempt missed. Rose Lavelle (USA) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Megan Rapinoe following a set piece situation.

Julie Ertz (USA) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jenni Hermoso (Spain).

Alex Morgan (USA) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lucía García (Spain).

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Becky Sauerbrunn.

goal

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France33007169
2Norway32016336
3Nigeria310224-23
4South Korea300318-70

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany33006069
2Spain31113214
3China31111104
4South Africa300318-70

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy32017256
2Australia32018536
3Brazil32016336
4Jamaica3003112-110

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England33005149
2Japan311123-14
3Argentina302134-12
4Scotland301257-21

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands33006249
2Canada32014226
3Cameroon310235-23
4New Zealand300315-40

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1USA3300180189
2Sweden32017346
3Chile310225-33
4Thailand3003120-190
View full Women's World Cup tables

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