Arts & Entertainment

After spectacular start, US women win World Cup Final 5-2

To the delight of American fans, Carli Lloyd of the United States scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the FIFA Women's World Cup Final against Japan on Sunday.
To the delight of American fans, Carli Lloyd of the United States scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the FIFA Women's World Cup Final against Japan on Sunday.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The U.S. women's team defeated Japan to win the World Cup 5-2 Sunday.

The Women's World Cup Final brought U.S. fans to their feet, reduced polished sportswriters to all-caps expressions of awe and rewrote FIFA records — and that was just the first half.

The game began in spectacular fashion: in the first five minutes, captain Carli Lloyd scored two swift goals — the fastest two goals in FIFA history, according to the FIFA Women's World Cup twitter account.

Just a few minutes later, Lauren Holiday brought the score up to 3-0.

And then Lloyd did it again: she scored — from midfield — to raise the score to an astounding 4-0, just 15 minutes into the game. It was the first hat trick in a Women's World Cup final and the fastest hat trick in any World Cup game.

And did we mention it was a strike from midfield?

The U.S. lead was definitive, but Japan hadn't given up. They scored an elegant goal in the 27th minute, finally giving Japan fans something to cheer about.

As NPR's Russell Lewis reported before the game, the U.S. team made it to the final thanks to some remarkable work on defense:

The U.S. has played six games in the World Cup and hasn't given up a goal since its opener against Australia — a stunning scoreless streak of 513 minutes. Not surprisingly, the three nominees from the United States for FIFA's 'Golden Ball' award play defense and midfield.

When that streak finally ended at 540 minutes, it tied Germany's 2007 World Cup record. But while defense brought the U.S. women to the final, it was offense that was shining on the field.

In the second half, Julie Johnston scored an own goal that Hope Solo couldn't block, bringing Japan's score to 2. A few minutes later, Tobin Heath scored again for the U.S., bringing America back to another dominant lead: 5-2.

The game is a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final, which Japan won in a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out. That game was tense: 1-1 at the end of regulation and 2-2 at the end of overtime, before Japan won the shootout 3-1.

That heartbreaking loss was driving the Americans as they headed into Sunday's game. "It's kind of been that thing that's been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us," star forward Abby Wambach said Friday.

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