Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of the World Cup as it unfolded in Canada. This was due to several factors, most notably the time difference and the fact I’ve started a new job which has very early starts, meaning no late nights for Chris.
Throw in the fact MWG abhors most sport (so far it’s only MMA and rugby that she’ll watch) and all I got to watch was a few of the highlight shows and the final was the only game I got to watch in its entirety (albeit the next day).
I’m not complaining though because it was a belter of a match.
It was world champions vs Olympic champions as the holders Japan took on the USA. It was the third final in the row to have this line up, and beforehand the pundits talked of a close match, with many going for the Americans to edge it.
Personally, I couldn’t voice an opinion. I knew little of either team, although had heard that the US’ side of the tournament was tougher than Japan’s. Of the players I only knew a handful of names, most notably Hope Solo, the American keeper having seen her in action at London 2012 and some highlights online, as well as some controversies about her.
Other than that, none meant much to me.
That’s changed now, and one name will stick with me for quite a while, and that’s Carli Lloyd.
Lloyd bagged a 13 minute hat-trick as the US went off script and blew away any thought of a close run match. In a blistering opening to the game the USA came out all guns blazing.
Aided by some shoddy Japanese defending the Americans took a lead within three minutes, after Lloyd was left unmarked at a corner. The corner was driven in across the deck and Lloyd burst into the open to flick it home.
Two minutes later she scored her second, as once again she was given far too much space and found the net. Japan were reeling and the US just kept coming.
Lauren Holliday added a third just before the quarter hour before Lloyd rounded off her hat-trick with the most impressive goal of the match, as she spotted goalie Ayumi Kaihori off her line and with wonderful vision and quick thinking lobbed her from halfway down the field.
Of course, the US couldn’t keep up this pace and slowed a little but at 4-0 down they could afford to take their foot off the gas, especially against a lacklustre and shaken Japanese team. They still made chances and Lloyd continued to cause problems for the Japanese defence.
Japan slowly recovered their composure and started doing a bit more with the ball, pulling one back just before the half hour. At half time it was 4-1 and it would take a mammoth effort from the Japanese, or a catastrophe for the Americans.
Japan got a second after an unfortunate own goal from Julie Johnston.
But any thoughts of a Japanese comeback were fleeting as two minutes later the US added a fifth. Another corner exposed their frailties in defence and Tobin Heath knocked it in.
There would be no further goals, Japan’s attacks lacked bite and Solo and Co. managed to contain them.
The USA came out as deserved winners following their all out assault in the first half and some solid defending, easily besting the Japanese, who shocked at the start never found the higher gear they needed to win.
It was a fantastic final and from the highlights I saw a great tournament, proving that women’s football continues to improve and is just as fun to watch. And in Carli Lloyd they have the game has an impressive, talented heroine, who I imagine many girls will look up to and wish to emulate.
Hopefully the momentum the sport is building builds further and I look forward to watching more of the next World Cup in 2019 as the UK-French time difference is a little easier to deal with.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.