Golden Boot, Golden Ball and the World Cup. Megan Rapinoe made her mark in style.
With boos for Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, echoing around the ground at the trophy presentation and chants of “equal pay” ringing loudest, the impact off the pitch after 52 games from the reigning champions was as big as the impact on it.
A coolly taken Rapinoe penalty and beautifully worked goal from Rose Lavelle was all that was needed to fire USA to their fourth Women’s World Cup against a resilient Netherlands side held together by the outstanding, yet currently unsigned, Sari van Veenendaal in goal.
Rapinoe tied up the Golden Boot ahead of her teammate Alex Morgan, having matched her for goals and assists but in fewer minutes on the pitch. USA’s co-captain slotted home the spot-kick on the hour, after Morgan had been fouled by Stefanie van der Gragt. Eight minutes later, Lavelle sealed victory with a fine solo effort.
With USA having overcome the hosts, France, and England, there was less a feeling this would be Le Grande Finale and more of a hope that it would not be a whitewash. But the Dutch enjoy being underdogs, having won a maiden major trophy on home soil at Euro 2017. This was old money against new, the world champions against the European champions, who launched a professional domestic league only in 2007.
The Netherlands raised eyebrows by moving Dominique Bloodworth from centre-back to left-back but the experiment was short-lived. Midway through the first half the former Arsenal player, who has joined Wolfsburg this summer, was pulled out of her battle with Tobin Heath and switched with Desiree van Lunteren to try to cut off American advances on the right wing.