Abby Wambach's continued late-game heroics have the U.S. women's national team a win away from its third World Cup title.
The veteran U.S. forward scored for the third conseuctive game, heading home a Lauren Cheney corner kick in the 79th minute to break a 1-1 deadlock and lead the United States to a 3-1 victory over France in Wednesday's semifinal match. Substitute forward Alex Morgan added an insurance goal three minutes later to ice the match and help the U.S. women clinch a spot in the World Cup final.
The United States returns to the final for the first time since 1999, when it last won the tournament. The U.S. women will meet either Japan or Sweden in Sunday's final. The United States beat Japan twice by 2-0 scorelines in pre-World Cup friendlies and lost to Sweden for the second time this year in the final game of group play.
The United States opened the scoring against France in the ninth minute, when Cheney redirected Heather O'Reilly's cross from the left into the goal.
While the scoreline won't show it, France's midfield controlled the run of play for the better part of the match, and the French equalized in the 55th minute. Sonia Bompastor's cross from the left sailed over its target and inside the far post while U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo kept track of forward Gaetane Thiney.
The United States withstood the French momentum before pulling back ahead through Wambach's header, which tied her with Michelle Akers for the most all-time World Cup goals by an American (12). It was her header by the near post at the death that saved the United States from elimination in the quarterfinals against Brazil and forced penalty kicks, where the Americans made all their kicks and Solo came up with a key save.
France will play the Sweden-Japan loser in Sunday's third-place game.
What did you think of the game? Think the U.S. women will win it all? Would you make any changes to the starting lineup ahead of the final?
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