Thursday 19 September 2019, 14:06

Rapinoe: Three defining moments

  • Megan Rapinoe is a finalist for The Best FIFA Women's Player

  • adidas Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner at France 2019

  • We pick out three key moments from her unforgettable World Cup

Megan Rapinoe undeniably left her mark on the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™. In a tournament stuffed with high-intensity matches, perhaps no player proved her mettle more than the 34-year-old winger, now a finalist for The Best FIFA Women's Player.

Her trophy cabinet already brimming, the talismanic star left France with an adidas Golden Boot, adidas Golden Ball and, of course, the World Cup trophy in tow. And who could forget her iconic goal celebration? Feet together, arms outstretched – an image that came to define her team's swagger. turns the spotlight on three moments that cemented Rapinoe's place alongside Lucy Bronze and team-mate Alex Morgan as a finalist for The Best FIFA Women's Player.

Surviving a scare

USA's prize for finishing on top of their group in France? A last-16 showdown with a surging Spain. 'Pinoe' opened the scoring from the spot in the seventh minute, capitalising on Tobin Heath drawing a foul inside the right edge of the 18-yard box. But the holders conceded two minutes later due to a lapse playing out of the back. Jenni Hermoso took full advantage, and from there La Roja gave the USA a stern test.

When Rose Lavelle drew another penalty flashing across the middle of the box, Rapinoe stepped up yet again in the 75th minute. Her second strike was nearly identical to her first, both low and drilled into the back-left corner of the net. The goal propelled her side into a quarter-final encounter with the hosts.

'The team on her back'

Fresh off her penalty-spot double in Reims, Rapinoe dazzled with another brace in Paris against fellow heavyweights France.

"I think this World Cup [Megan] stepped up even more in big moments, and that’s probably one of the hardest things to do," team-mate Mallory Pugh told "She was a true professional and really put the team on her back in those moments."

Standing over a free-kick in the fifth minute, Rapinoe unleashed a teasing ball that seared underneath the French defence and emerged untouched in the back of the net, giving the USA a crucial early advantage. In the 65th minute Rapinoe doubled her goal haul and her team's advantage, cutting inside to calmly tuck away Heath's centering pass. That clinical finish kept France at arm's length long enough for the USA to prevail in a clash of tournament titans.

Golden goal

The Oranjeleeuwinnen pushed the USA to their limits in Lyon, becoming the first team to hold them scoreless in the first half. It was time for Rapinoe to take charge yet again, this time on the grandest stage imaginable: a World Cup Final.

When Alex Morgan earned a penalty kick opportunity for the United States in the second half, Rapinoe's heroics almost felt inevitable, so reliable was her finishing. She left adidas Golden Glove winner Sari van Veenendaal rooted to her spot, giving the reigning champions a lead they would not relinquish.

"We had some incredibly tough games, a lot of media attention and pressure," Rapinoe said after the match. "So I think for us older players to carry that load and set the right example for the younger players is a huge reason as to why we were able to be so successful."

Rapinoe put a bow on her masterful run of form in France, making a strong case to walk away with another piece of hardware at The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday 23 September in Milan.