Carli Lloyd hat trick helps USA beat Japan 5-2 to win 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup
WATCH ABOVE: Team USA star Carli Lloyd talks about the convincing World Cup win and how it hasn’t fully sunk in yet.
VANCOUVER – The U.S. women’s national soccer team scored four goals in the first 16 minutes of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, leading them to a decisive 5-2 win over Japan and a record third Women’s World Cup title.
Carli Lloyd netted three goals in 16 minutes for the fastest hat trick in Women’s World Cup history. She also became the first player to net three goals in a FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
“It’s been amazing,” said Lloyd. “We just wrote history today and brought this World Cup trophy home, which is unbelievable.”
The win helps the U.S. avenge their loss to Japan at the 2011 Women’s World Cup final. In that game, an underdog Japanese side came from behind to win on penalty kicks. But several costly defensive lapses snuffed out any hope of a similar comeback in Vancouver.
Lloyd’s first two goals came off set pieces. At the three-minute mark, she ran into the box to connect on a low corner kick from Megan Rapinoe to beat Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.
The American captain then made it 2-0 just two minutes later by poking home Lauren Holiday’s free kick after it was flicked on by Julie Johnston in a chaotic penalty area.
Holiday scored at the 14-minute mark after Japan’s Azusa Iwashimizu mishandled a header in the box.
Lloyd then fired a ball from near midfield that caught goalkeeper Kaihori off her line, giving the U.S. a 4-0 lead.
“I’ve dreamed of scoring a shot like that,” said Lloyd. “I did it once, I think, when I was a little bit younger on the national team in a training environment.
“Very rarely do you just wind up and hit it.”
As the Americans on the pitch and in the stands celebrated, Kaihori lay on her back with her hands covering her face.
“We talked about trying to start fast,” said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. “That’s been one of our mantras — start fast, finish strong.”
When play resumed, Lloyd could have easily scored a fourth goal on a header moments later that went just wide.
Japan showed some life later in the first half with Yuki Ogimi scoring at the 27-minute mark.
Prior to Ogimi’s tally, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had gone 540 minutes without conceding a goal. After the match, Solo was named the tournament’s top goalkeeper.
When the U.S. wasn’t busy filling up Japan’s net, they were scoring on their own. Seven minutes into the second half, Johnston headed the ball into her own net for an own-goal.
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The U.S. scored two minutes later on yet another set piece when goalkeeper Kaihori failed to punch away a corner kick, allowing Morgan Brian to square the ball to Tobin Heath for her first of the match.
With just over 10 minutes left, veteran Abby Wambach checked into her 25th Women’s World Cup match, receiving a huge ovation from the U.S. fans at B.C. Place.
“The first 15 or 16 minutes seemed surreal,” said Wambach. “It seemed fake.
“I (kept) thinking I have died and this is what my heaven looks like.”
The win gives the U.S. its first Women’s World Cup title since 1999.
Lloyd was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player.
More than 53,000 attended the final at Vancouver’s B.C. Place. Among the large contingent of U.S. fans was Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not in attendance.
-with files from Canadian Press