USA see off France to reach decider
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USA are into the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final™ with two late goals eventually subduing a brave France 3-1 in Monchengladbach.

The Americans, who will compete in their first decider since winning on home soil in 1999, will face the winner of tonight’s second semi-final between Japan and Sweden.

The action-packed match was locked 1-1 until Abby Wambach and substitute Alex Morgan scored twice in the space of three minutes in the latter stages to end France’s dreams of a first Final appearance.

Both teams came out of the blocks fast in wet conditions at the Stadion im Borussia-Park seemingly determined to take the game to their opponents. However it was USA who took the early advantage with Lauren Cheney deftly deflecting the ball home at the near post on nine minutes, following Heather O’Reilly’s powerful run and cross down the left flank.

Approaching the half hour mark Louisa Necib fired on target from the edge of the penalty area with Hope Solo forced to react quickly and tip over the crossbar. Almost immediately France struck the crossbar through a well-hit Sonia Bompastor effort from the corner of the penalty area, after Necib laid off a free-kick.

Les Bleues were enjoying a strong period peppering the USA goal with a number of efforts from distance.

Then it was USA’s opportunity to attack with Abby Wambach twice coming close in a matter of minutes before the interval. A lightning raid saw Shannon Boxx deliver a perfect cross to Wambach at the back post but the American striker could only direct her header across the face of goal from an awkward angle. Wambach could then have scored at the near post in a move reminiscent of Cheney’s goal, only for the No20 to stab her shot wide.

The second period continued in a similar vein to the first, with high tempo and end-to-end action.

France restored parity ten minutes after the interval with a somewhat lucky goal, although one that proved reward for their persistent attacking endeavour. Bompastor played a searching cross into the penalty area which snuck in off the far post, with the ball having eluding Solo who was distracted by Gaetane Thiney’s presence.

French goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz made a crucial stop at the feet of Morgan as the substitute seemed certain to score from a rebound.

The Americans got the breakthrough with 11 minutes remaining as the physically imposing Wambach scored with a towering header at the back post from a perfect Cheney corner. The goal saw Wambach draw level with Michelle Akers on 12 goals as the leading USA goalscorer in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Three minutes later the contest was effectively over as Morgan concluded a swift counter-attack with a smart finish past the exposed Sapowicz.

Player of the match: Abby Wambach (USA)