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Lloyd banks hat-trick as USA win title
 Women's Football News 6 Jul 2015
 
United States 5 (Lloyd 3,5,16, Holiday 14, Heath 54) Japan 2 (Ogimi 27, Johnston og 52)
Carli Lloyd hit a hat-trick in the opening sixteen minutes as the United States blew away Japan to reclaim the World Cup in style in Vancouver. 
 
The Americans have been head and shoulders above the rest throughout the competition and are thoroughly worthy winners, having stamped their class on the match from the first kick off to claim their first world crown in sixteen years, as well as avenging their defeat to Japan in the Final four years ago.
 
In just the third minute of the game, USA won a corner on the right which was drilled low into the area by Megan Rapinoe for Carli Lloyd to run onto and fire home to give her side the perfect opening.
 
Only a further two minutes had elapsed when the same combination doubled their side's advantage. This time, having won a free kick on the right near the corner flag, Rapinoe again drove in a low ball which the Japanese defence could not deal with and Lloyd again slotted home from close range.
 
Japan tried to get their passing game going but the USA players were at least a yard quicker all round the pitch and the third goal was not too long in coming. Ali Krieger crossed from the right, Azusa Iwashmizu miscued her header and Lauren Holiday stole in to beat Ayumi Kaihori with a perfectly executed volley from 15 yards.
 
Before Japan could recover from that setback, Lloyd duly completed her hat-trick in amazing style with a lob from the halfway line which went in via the post. In truth, Kaihori should have done better in dealing with the shot but it completed a stunning opening 16 minutes for the USA and Lloyd in particular.
 
USA sensed more goals and Lloyd missed a glorious chance to make it five, heading wide from a Meghan Klingenberg cross, then Alex Morgan made a strong run, cutting in from the left and running at the defence before her shot brought out a good save from Kaihori.
 
A rout was looking on the cards but Japan did bring themselves a glimmer of hope just before the half hour mark. Nahomi Kawasumi crossed from the right and Julie Johnston tried to intercept but committed herself in the process, allowing Yuki Ogimi to turn and plant a left foot shot beyond the dive of Hope Solo and reduce the arrears.
 
Suddenly the normally watertight USA defence began to look a little shaky, an Aya Sameshima cross was kept in by Kawasumi at the far post and Ogimi laid the ball back for Aya Miyama whose shot lacked power and Solo saved comfortably.
 
Lloyd almost got in for another when her header from a Rapinoe cross was blocked by Saori Ariyoshi but the midfielder had dominated a first half in which her team had crushed their opponents.
 
It would have been difficult for the USA to have maintained the pace of the first half but they started the second half well, Morgan Brian curling a shot which was turned over the bar by Kaihori. However a couple of minutes later, a long free kick into the area flicked off the head of Johnston and wrong footed Solo, who could not quite keep the ball out and Japan had another lifeline.
 
That lifeline lasted just two minutes though as Japan were undone by another set piece. Rapinoe's inswinging corner again caused confusion in the Japanese defence and Brian squared the ball back for Tobin Heath to tuck home from six yards.
 
Rumi Utsugi was just off target with a volley from 25 yards as Japan tried hard to get themselves back in the game once again but USA continued to look sharp every time they went forward, Morgan was next to threaten with an excellent turn inside the area but she dragged her shot wide of the goal.
 
To their credit, Japan kept plugging away with their renowned passing game with Mizuho Sakaguchi volleying wide following a corner and Ogimi passing up a great chance when she headed straight at Solo from a fine ball by Miyama.
 
The introduction of Mana Iwabuchi once again gave Japan more impetus going forward but it was too little, too late and the USA were able to give sentimental substitute appearances to Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone late on.
 
The USA players greeted the final whistle with joy 
 
United States: Hope Solo, Ali Krieger, Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe (sub Kelley O'Hara 61mins), Morgan Brian, Alex Morgan (sub Christie Rampone 86mins), Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath (sub Abby Wambach 79mins).

Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Saori Ariyoshi, Azusa Iwashimizu (sub Homare Sawa 33mins), Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Yuki Ogimi, Aya Miyama, Nahomi Kawasumi (sub Yuika Sugasawa 39mins), Rumi Utsugi, Shinobu Ohno (sub Mana Iwabuchi 59mins).

Player of the match: Carli Lloyd.


 
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