USA thrash Japan to win Women’s World Cup

Hat-trick by captain Lloyd in the opening 16 minutes helped her side beat the 2011 winners Japan.

Soccer: Women''s World Cup-Final-Japan at United States
USA had lost to the same opponents in the final four years ago [Anne-Marie Sorvin/Usa Today Sports]

Captain Carli Lloyd scored a hat-trick inside the opening 16 minutes as USA beat reigning champions Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

The American midfielder became the first woman to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final and just the second player overall after Geoff Hurst netted three goals in England’s 4-2 win over Germany in the men’s 1966 final.

World Cup winners
2015 – USA
2011 – Japan
2007 – Germany
2003 – Germany
1999 – USA
1995 – Norway
1991 – USA

But unlike Hurst, whose three goals spanned more than 100 minutes with the last two coming in extra time, Lloyd needed just 13 minutes to complete her hat-trick.

Her first came in the third minute when Megan Rapinoe drove a low diagonal ball across the area and Lloyd timed her run to perfection, meeting the ball with a powerful, first-time drive past Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori.

If Japan were shocked by conceding so early, they were utterly stunned two minutes later when Lloyd doubled the lead from a set-piece again.

Japan barely had time to regroup before they found themselves 3-0 down in the 14th minute when an awful attempted headed clearance from Azusa Iwashimizu fell to Holiday on the edge of the box, who blasted in a volley.

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Two minutes later came one of the most remarkable goals witnessed in a World Cup final.

Lloyd, gathering the ball in her own half, spotted Kaihori far off her line and shot from the half-way line. The scrambling Japanese keeper could only touch the ball onto the post and into the net.

Lloyd missed a penalty in the 2011 World Cup final when the US lost to Japan in a shootout, but has otherwise made a habit of scoring in the biggest matches.

She scored the winner in extra time against China in the 2008 Olympic gold medal match in Beijing as well as both goals in her country’s 2-1 win over Japan in the 2012 Olympic final.

The seven goals in the match made it the highest scoring Women’s World Cup final.

An opening 16 minutes to forget not just for the players but for fans as well [Getty Images]
An opening 16 minutes to forget not just for the players but for fans as well [Getty Images]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies