Tears for England as the USA seal World Cup Final place

Ellen White and Steph Houghton at the final whistle.
Ellen White and Steph Houghton at the final whistle. / EFE
  • The tournament favourites were let off twice; first by VAR and then a poor penalty from England captain Steph Houghton

Three-time winners USA progressed to their fifth World Cup Final thanks to first-half goals from Christen Press and Alex Morgan in a closely fought battle with England in Lyon on Tuesday night.

The pair's headed goals came either side of Ellen White's cushioned volley during a high-intensity clash high on drama.

Phil Neville's Lionesses, gunning to reach the final for the first time, lined up with an unfamiliar 4-2-4 shape with Barcelona's Toni Duggan having to content herself with a place on the bench.

However, this gamble backfired as the US controlled the midfield area, keeping England on the back foot from the moment they took the lead in the 10th minute when Press leapt highest at the back post to convert Kelley O'Hara's cross from the right.

But despite the reigning champions maintaining the pressure, England struck back within nine minutes through White, teasing Beth Mead's cross in off the inside of the far post.

Then it was England's turn to enjoy some possession, but their joy was soon cut short when US co-captain Alex Morgan again demonstrated her side's aerial prowess, nodding Lindsey Horan's dinked pass past Carly Telford.

England went in at the break perhaps relieved to be only 2-1 down at half-time after Rose Lavelle twice went close for the holders.

After the introduction of Fran Kirby, England went back to the tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 shape and, as a result, had the better of the second 45 minutes.

White was denied her second by the VAR, deeming her offside when she tucked home after being sent through on goal.

However, with less than ten minutes remaining, the Lionesses were given a shot at redemption when Becky Sauerbrunn made contact with White's shooting leg just as the Manchester City striker was poised to level.

However, captain Steph Houghton's penalty was weak and Alyssa Naeher saved low to her right.

Any hope of a comeback was then extinguished two minutes later when Chelsea's Millie Bright was dismissed for a second yellow card for a forceful tackle on Morgan.

The US face European champions, the Netherlands, in the showpiece final in Lyon on Sunday, while England face Sweden in the third-place play-off in Nice on Saturday.