Women's World Cup: Megan Rapinoe ready for 'huge task' against England

United States match-winner Megan Rapinoe said they face a "huge task" after setting up a Women's World Cup semi-final against England on Tuesday.

Rapinoe scored twice as the defending champions beat hosts France 2-1 in Paris on Friday to reach the last four.

England had beaten Norway 3-0 in Le Havre 24 hours earlier.

"We face a very good English side, who have some good players. They're one of the big girls of the game," said Seattle Reign winger Rapinoe.

"They strolled through their quarter-final and had an extra day, so have got some rest in their legs. We'll enjoy this tonight. All eyes towards England tomorrow."

Rapinoe is now the joint top scorer in the tournament with five goals - alongside team-mate Alex Morgan, England's Ellen White and Australia's Sam Kerr.

The 33-year-old is the first player ever to score twice in consecutive Women's World Cup knockout games, having also scored both in the 2-1 win over Spain.


'Go gays!' - Rapinoe takes pride in starring role

Rapinoe's latest match-winning performance came after she was criticised on Twitter by US president Donald Trump for telling football magazine Eight by Eightexternal-link she would not accept any invitation to the White House if the team won the World Cup.

President Trump told the winger she should "win before she talks".

Having won again, she was happy to oblige - although she did not refer to the president's comments directly.

"I think I'm motivated by people who like me and people who are fighting for the same things," she said after the game. "I take more energy from that than from trying to prove everyone wrong all the time."

Rapinoe, who came out as gay in 2012, is an advocate for numerous LGBT organisations, and described herself in an interview this year as "a walking protest", told reporters she was happy to be playing a starring role at the tournament during Pride month.

"Go gays! You can't win a championship without gays on your team, it's pretty much never been done before," she joked at full-time. "That's science right there.

"So yeah, to be gay and fabulous during pride month at the World Cup is nice."

Manager Jill Ellis is supportive of her outspoken co-captain, and says off-field matters prove more motivation than distraction.

"It's almost like it just feeds her. She's just a big personality, both on and off the pitch," the coach said.

"She's a big-time player. And I think the bigger stage the more she's going to respond. If anything, this stuff - I wouldn't say it bounces off her - I think it even pushes her forward."


England, who have never won a major women's tournament, are in their third consecutive semi-final, having lost in the last four at the World Cup in 2015 and at Euro 2017.

In their way will be the world's number one-ranked USA team, who have won a record three World Cups, including four years ago. They have reached at least the semi-final in all eight World Cups.

Managed by Portsmouth-born Jill Ellis, they have won their past 10 games in World Cups, a joint record, They have only lost once in 43 matches, a friendly defeat against France in January.

But Phil Neville's side will take hope from a 2-2 draw with hosts USA in the invitational SheBelieves Cup in March, which England went on to win.

Former England right-back Alex Scott, who was at the Parc des Princes for the US-France quarter-final for BBC One, said: "We've got some very impressive players with England. I'm very excited about facing the number one side.

"It will be another spectacle for the women's game. England are getting better and better but they'll have to raise it again.

"It's the USA tempo I'm so impressed by. England will have to raise their levels. Every USA player out there is an athlete."

BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Pat Nevin, a former Scotland and Chelsea winger, said: "What a game it will be.

"I'm not going to say England have nothing to fear but they are capable of damaging this team, because they've got goalscorers, and enough power and belief in the team. Also, this game has taken a lot out of this American side."

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.

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