Carli Lloyd stunned Japan with a quickfire first-half hat-trick to secure the USA’s third Women’s World Cup.
The USA regained the trophy after 16 years and meted out a measure of revenge for their defeat four years ago against the same opponents.
The Japan defence – so unified and coherent throughout the tournament – were lackadaisical from the off, and failed to mark Lloyd twice in the first five minutes, giving her space to run in to the box and notch her first two goals.
Lauren Holiday added the USA’s third, after a poor Japan clearance gave her space to lash home spectacularly, but it was overshadowed by Lloyd’s own third, just a minute later, an effort from the halfway line as she spotted Ayumi Kaihori off her line.
Yuki Ogimi got a goal back for Japan, creating her own space in the box just before the half-hour mark to knock past Hope Solo.
And it was an unfortunate 52nd-minute own goal from Julie Johnston, who has had an excellent World Cup, that gave Japan the feeling they might be able to stage a comeback.
But two minutes later Tobin Heath restored the USA’s advantage after more poor marking and goalkeeping gave her chance to notch the fifth.
The match was also noteworthy for substitute appearances from three legends – Homare Sawa in her sixth World Cup, Abby Wambach who reclaimed the armband from Lloyd, and Christie Rampone, now 40 years old.
3′ GOAL! Rapinoe takes a really odd corner, driving it low and fast along the floor, and Carli Lloyd just comes powering in to the box and flicks it home.
5′ GOAL! And literally nobody is anywhere near Carli Lloyd. Why is this? Absolutely ridiculous. Again she’s on the run from the edge of the box, and the ball pings across into the middle and that’s a simple tap-in.
14′ GOAL! What a great finish from Lauren Holiday! More defensive errors from Japan…
16′ GOAL! Sorry, I was just writing up that brilliant goal, when Carli Lloyd spotted Kaihori off her line and chipped her from the halfway line just as the clock ticked over to 16.
27′ GOAL! Yuki Ogimi gets a goal back for Japan! She does well to turn Johnston in the box to create the space for her shot, which she puts past Hope Solo.
52′ GOAL! And that’s in! Off Julie Johnston! And Japan are making this very interesting. What a goal-line bundle as Hope Solo scurries across and can’t claw that out.
54′ GOAL! The USA’s fifth corner of the game leads to their fifth goal. Nobody bothers marking Carli Lloyd again, Kaihori does badly with the corner, and Brian taps back at the far post for Tobin Heath to score in the centre.
The USA are the first team to win the Women’s World Cup three times (1991, 1999, 2015).
This was the highest-scoring Women’s World Cup final of all time.
Carli Lloyd is the first player to score a hat-trick in the Women’s World Cup final.
MATCHCAST – AS IT HAPPENED: JAPAN V USA
It’s the end of what’s been a fabulous tournament and as always it’s time to reflect – in a time of immense upheaval for FIFA they managed to get attention focused on the pitch, without anyone really talking about what that pitch was made of. FIFPro, the international players’ union, have assured us that no such turf will ever appear at any World Cup again. Let’s see what happens in France in four years’ time.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Carli Lloyd (USA). The first woman to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
USA – Solo 7, Sauerbrunn 7, Lloyd 9, Krieger 7, Holiday 8, Morgan 8, Brian 8, Rapinoe 8, Heath 8, Johnston 7, Klingenberg 8. Subs – Wambach 6, Rampone 6,O’Hara 7.
Japan – Kaihori 5, Iwashimizu 6, Kumagai 6, Sameshima 7, Sakaguchi 7, Miyama 7, Kawasumi 6, Ohno 7, Utsugi 7, Ogimi 7, Ariyoshi 7. Subs – Sawa 7, Sugasawa 6, Iwabuchi 6.