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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 26 August, 2019
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We’re just under an hour away from kick-off in what should be a fascinating encounter.

In many people’s eyes, France and the US were the two favourites to triumph going into the competition, so whoever prevails from this contest will be strongly fancied to go all the way.

USA were particularly impressive in the group stages, winning all of their matches, while scoring 18 goals and conceding 0.

They were less convincing in their round of 16 match against Spain, however. They needed a contentious, VAR-assisted penalty to emerge 2-1 winners.

France have also looked strong for the most part, winning all their group matches, though they only edged past Brazil in the second round, as Amandine Henry’s extra-time winner saw them through a grueling contest.

Widely regarded as the best team in the world, the US will be most people’s favourites to progress tonight and play England in the semis, though with home advantage and a number of Lyon’s all-conquering Champions League winners in their squad, it would certainly be unwise to dismiss the French team’s chances. 

Who do you think will progress to the semi-finals?


Poll Results:

USA (201)
France (94)


She is a person of resolute character and although much has been made of the inevitably sausage-fingered attempts of Donald Trump to carve her up and feed her to the lunatics, Rapinoe’s thick skin just so happens to be covered in layers of teflon too.”

If you’re looking for some pre-match reading, check out Eoin O’Callaghan’s piece on Megan Rapinoe.

   

We’re under way…

2Mins

Positive start for the US.

Rapinoe goes on a mazy run before playing it to Ertz, whose long-distance shot is saved with relative ease by Bouhaddi.

3Mins

Mbock is booked after just three minutes.

She is penalised for cynically dragging back Alex Morgan as the US attacker sprints towards the box.

8Mins

Rapinoe drills a free kick from wide left directly into the net to give the US the perfect start.

It doesn’t appear to get a touch off anyone, though Ertz’s run across goal may have been as distracting as intended.

The goalkeeper Bouhaddi arguably could have done better, but she may have been unsighted with so many bodies crowding the box.

14Mins

France have produced a decent response to that early setback.

As I type, Naeher gets down to make a save after Le Sommer heads towards goal from Majri cross.

Shortly thereafter, Morgan shoots from outside the area, but her attempt is straight at Bouhaddi.

17Mins

Good anticipation from Bouhaddi.

She is alert, coming quickly off her line to make a well-timed tackle before Rapinoe can properly latch on to Morgan’s dangerous through ball.

25Mins

France are enjoying the better possession and territory right now, but they are struggling to create clear-cut chances.

The US, meanwhile, are looking menacing whenever they get the opportunity to counter-attack.

31Mins

France have just won their first corner.

It’s a very hot day at the Parc des Princes in Paris — currently 29 degrees celsius — and USA are bound to get tired pretty quickly if they keep having to chase the ball as they are at the moment.

34Mins

France have had five shots, but none on target so far.

By contrast, all three of the USA’s attempts have been on target.

41Mins

France just haven’t been good enough in the final third so far.

After winning a free kick in a promising position, the subsequent set piece is lofted comfortably into the arms of Naeher.

45Mins

It’s a bit better from the US in recent minutes — they’re starting to impose themselves in midfield, with Ertz particularly influential.

It remains very tight, however, with chances for either side few and far between.

45Mins

It’s been an intriguing, fast-paced, frenetic first half with the US possibly a tad fortunate to be leading.

Rapinoe, who has been hitting headlines quite frequently lately, gave her side the lead with a well-executed free kick early on that France will nonetheless feel disappointed to have conceded.

Since then, however, the hosts have had more of the play, though their decision-making in the final third has let them down. They haven’t been clinical or composed enough in front of goal, as emphasised by the fact that none of their six attempts have been on target.

45Mins

France haven’t been passing the ball quickly enough, according to Arsenal defender Louise Quinn in the RTÉ studio.

She adds that the side’s leaders like Renard and Henry will be key in the second half if they are to get back into this game.

45Mins

46Mins

The second half has begun…

47Mins

Instantly, Bouhaddi is forced into a good double save.

Initially, she stops Mewis’ effort from the edge of the area, before getting up quickly and denying Heath on the rebound.

45Mins

52Mins

Le Sommer makes a mazy run into the box, but Ertz does well to stop her with a well-timed challenge.

Moments later, Henry’s shot is deflected wide.

From the ensuing corner, Le Sommer heads the ball wide.

France are beginning to look a little more threatening in attack now.

60Mins

Gauvin misses Torrent’s deep cross. It then falls to Le Sommer, who frustratingly can’t find the target with her attempt in what is probably France’s best chance so far.

Moments later, Diani is through on goal, after a defence-splitting pass from Thiney, but Dunn does very well to make the recovery tackle.

While there’s only been one goal so far, it’s still been a highly absorbing contest that’s difficult to take your eyes off. 

63Mins

There are loud boos as the referee stops play with France on the attack.

The ball is struck at O’Hara, and she’s winded as a result.

The US use this break to make a change — Horan, who many expected to start, replaces Lavelle.

67Mins

With France increasingly pushing players forward, the US exploit the space in behind.

Heath makes a good run down the right, before her well-judged cross is consummately converted by an unmarked Rapinoe, who gets her second of the match and surely has won it for her side.

It’s harsh on France, who have done nearly all the attacking in this second half, but the visitors have defended diligently throughout and have got their reward now.

72Mins

Majri finds herself in a promising position down the left but makes a mess of the cross, hitting it straight out of play.

Those type of errors have been all too commonplace in France’s play tonight.

74Mins

France v USA - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Parc des Princes Jose Mourinho (left) and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the stands. Source: Richard Sellers

77Mins

Heath has the ball in the net following a beautifully worked move by the US, but it’s ruled offside to keep France’s slim chances alive.

The hosts, meanwhile, make a substitution, with Cascarino on in place of the disappointing Gauvin.

79Mins

The ball breaks to Henry on the edge of the area, but her first-time shot is comfortably saved by Naeher.

Moments later, the goalkeeper has to be alert again, to tip over Le Sommer’s volley from a cross.

There’s a sense of desperation about France’s play now.

84Mins

Game on!

It’s a perfectly flighted cross and Renard is in the right place to produce a bullet header home.

Both sides react by making a change.

Le Sommer is off for Asseyi for France, while for the US, Carli Lloyd replaces Mewis.

89Mins

Strong claims for a penalty for France. Strangely, the ref opts not to consult VAR.

Majri’s cross appears to come off O’Hara’s hand, and it is likely to be a big talking point if France end up losing.

USA make another change, as Rapinoe is replaced by Press.

90Mins

There will be five minutes of stoppage time.

92Mins

USA are frustrating France, keeping the ball down the other end well.

They look set to see this game out.

90Mins

Morgan takes the ball down the line before being tripped by Bussaglia.

The France player is booked and more valuable seconds are taken up.

90Mins

Well, that’s that.

The US are through to the semi-finals, setting up a mouth-watering clash with England.

It was not exactly silky football for the most part, but they defended doggedly and took their chances well to advance and justify their status as favourites to win the competition.

France will be bitterly disappointed. Both goals they conceded were avoidable and they will feel they deserved better, having dominated large portions of the game.

They lacked composure in front of goal at times, but finished strongly, and will feel they were denied at least one clear penalty, with the referee incredibly opting not to use VAR as Majri’s cross cannoned off O’Hara’s arm.

USA, however, got the bit of luck often required to succeed and win competitions at this level, though the hosts will feel rightly aggrieved at this controversial decision.

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here and we’ll have more reaction to follow.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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