Monday 11 May 2020, 08:00

#WorldCupAtHome: Lloyd dazzles as USA regain crown

  • #WorldCupAtHome continues with USA’s clash against Japan at Canada 2015

  • Rematch of the 2011 final

  • Match will be shown in full at 20:00 CEST on Monday 11 May

With memories of their painful defeat to Japan in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ still fresh, a four-year wait for revenge came to an end for USA when they were reunited with their victors that day in the Canada 2015 final.

The summary

USA 5-2 Japan

Goalscorers: 1-0 Carli Lloyd (3’), 2-0 Lloyd (5’), 3-0 Lauren Holiday (14’), 4-0 Lloyd (16’), 4-1 Yuki Ogimi (27’), 4-2 Julie Johnston (OG 52’), 5-2 Tobin Heath (54’)

Line-ups: USA: Hope Solo – Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, Alexandra Krieger – Megan Rapinoe (Kelley O’Hara 61’), Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath (Abby Wambach 79’) – Carli Lloyd (c), Alex Morgan (Christie Rampone 86’)

Japan: Ayumi Kaihori – Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Azusa Iwashimizu (Homare Sawa 33’), Saori Ariyoshi – Aya Miyama (c), Rumi Utsugi, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Nahomi Kawasumi (Yuika Sugasawa 39’) – Yuki Ogimi, Shinobu Ono (Mana Iwabuchi 60’)

The stakes

The encounter was a rematch of an emotionally-charged 2011 final, which Japan won on penalties not long after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. The Stars and Stripes were determined to end a 16-year drought to reclaim the world crown in Canada, while the Nadeshiko had designs on establishing themselves long-term at the very top of the game. Furthermore, both teams were keen to bid farewell to legendary players on a high note, with both Abby Wambach and Homare Sawa bringing their careers to an end.

The story

Cheered on by the majority of the fans at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, USA wasted little time in asserting themselves and took the lead through Carli Lloyd in the third minute. The No10 doubled the advantage just two minutes later, again from a set-piece. Japan were unable to find a response and went 3-0 down inside a quarter of an hour when Lauren Holiday struck, before Lloyd completed her hat-trick with an effort from the halfway line on 16 minutes. Yuki Ogimi pulled a goal back to give Japan a glimmer of hope (27’) and they added another early in the second half when Julie Johnston put the ball into her own net (52’), only for Tobin Heath to restore a three-goal cushion just two minutes later.

The star

There was a sense of the stars aligning in Lloyd almost single-handedly securing USA’s third Women’s World Cup title, having missed her penalty in the shootout in the 2011 final. She was in inspired form throughout the tournament and made decisive contributions in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals against China PR and Germany respectively. Yet Lloyd saved her best for last, scoring a quickfire brace inside five minutes before sealing her hat-trick with a spectacular lob from halfway. She controlled her team’s build-up play in the middle of the pitch and was always available for a pass. The midfielder did not miss a single minute of action in Canada and was rewarded with the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. She also took home the adidas Silver Boot after registering six goals and one assist.

What they said

"After 15 minutes, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. We wanted to put them under pressure right from the start, and everything fell into place perfectly. To be honest, I couldn’t really have imagined things turning out better. However, I did know that my players were capable of doing something exceptional. That’s what they were born to do." Jill Ellis. USA coach

"My players have given their all in every match, and overall they’ve had a great tournament here in Canada. Today, though, the Americans were simply too strong. In the first few minutes, it seemed as if every shot ended up in the back of the net. But we never gave up fighting for our supporters in the stadium and back home in Japan. My players kept on going right until the very end. We’re proud of our performances. Four years ago, we won in Germany and in doing so we really gave the development of women’s football in Japan a big boost." Norio Sasaki, Japan coach

"It was split second. It was instinct. I remember touching the ball once and then touching it again before deciding to shoot from so far out. I’d looked up beforehand to see where the goalkeeper was and I saw she was really off her line. It’s one of those things that can either go really well or really badly." Carli Lloyd on her goal to put USA 4-0 up

What happened next

USA's euphoria was dampened the following year when they were knocked out on penalties by Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at Rio 2016. While that result ended the team’s Olympic dominance, Jill Ellis’s charges bounced back at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, where they beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final to lift their fourth title. Japan, who were champions in 2011 and runners-up in 2015, were knocked out in the last 16 in France.