The U.S. women’s national soccer team escaped with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Spain in a Women’s World Cup round-of-16 game Monday, sending the Americans on to meet host France in the quarterfinals Friday in Paris.
Both goals came on penalty kicks by Megan Rapinoe, the first in seventh minute and the second in the 75th. The two scores were the Americans’ first from the spot in this tournament.
Jennifer Hermoso pulled Spain even two minutes after the first one, following a poor clearance from U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher. The pass, intended for Becky Sauerbrunn, was stolen by Spain’s Lucia Garcia, who fed Hermoso, and the Atletico Madrid striker pushed toward the edge of the box before chipping a shot over the rapidly retreating Naeher.
The goal was Hermoso’s third of this Women’s World Cup — and her first from open play. It was just the fourth for Spain in the tournament.
It was also the first the U.S. has allowed in the World Cup and the first it has given up anywhere since an April friendly with Australia.
The first penalty was earned by Tobin Heath, who was chasing a long ball over the top when she was tripped in the box by Spain’s Maria Leon. After a quick VAR check, the PK was awarded and Rapinoe converted, slotting the ball into the lower left corner.
The second came after Spain’s Virginia Torrecilla was called for tripping Rose Lavelle as the U.S. midfielder dashed from right to left through the box in the 71st minute.
After a lengthy video review, Hungarian referee Katalin Kulcsar pointed to the spot and Megan Rapinoe converted into the lower left corner, sending the U.S. on and sending Spain home.
Alex Morgan had originally set up to take the PK, but during the VAR review, the team came to U.S. bench and when it went back on the field, Rapinoe stood over the ball.
Spain, which didn’t win a match in its Women’s World Cup debut four years ago, not only advanced from group play this year but also wound giving the top-ranked U.S. all it could handle.
The heat index at game time was 91 degrees, nearly 30 degrees warmer than the temperature the U.S. played in during its final group-stage game in the port city of Le Havre last week.
Kevin Baxter | 10:55 a.m.
The game is starting to get a little chippy as Spain, clearly frustrated at getting nothing from a great effort, start to get a little more aggressive in trying to win the ball back.
Here comes Carli Lloyd in the replacing in the 86th minute, replacing Alex Morgan.
Final five minutes of regulation, U.S. leads 2-1 on two Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks.
Kevin Baxter | 10:46 a.m.
U.S. takes the lead
Another penalty called on Spain, this one on Virginia Torrecilla for tripping Rose Lavelle and she dashed from right to left through the box in the 71st minute.
After a lengthy video review, Hungarian referee Katalin Kulcsar pointed to the spot and Megan Rapinoe converted into the lower left corner to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead.
Alex Morgan had originally set up to take the PK, but during the VAR review, the team came to bench and when it went back on the field, Rapinoe stood over the ball.
Both U.S. goals have come on Rapinoe penalty kicks, the first in the seventh minute.
Spain nearly went ahead in the 63rd minute when Patri Guijarro slipped a low pass toward the front of the net. But U.S. defender Abby Dahlkemper held back her mark, allowing the ball to role just wide of the far post.
Then other end Mewis spun a wide-righted shot from outside the box wide to the right of the net.
Kevin Baxter | 10:35 a.m.
Alex Morgan goes down but stays in the game
With the change of sides, Spanish keeper Sandra Panos is looking into the sun while U.S. Alyssa Naeher is in the shadows. On a high cross or free kick from straight away, that could be a problem for Panos.
U.S. forward Alex Morgan, who came out of the final group-stage game with Sweden at halftime after taking a knock, was bumped to the ground five minutes into the second half by Spain’s Irene Paredes and spent a couple of minutes on the turf before rising to continue.
TV showed a worried-looking Jill Ellis in front of the U.S. bench. If Carli Lloyd comes in, she’ll likely replace Morgan who has been a non-factor so far in this game.
In the nine minute a dangerous left-footed corner from Jennifer Hermoso is punched out by Naeher. Then the action shifts to the other end and Tobin Heath takes a pass from Rose Lavelle on the right edge of the area but skies her shot high.
Spain’s Irene Paredes just took out U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara with a rough tackle but no foul is called. Close play.
In the 60th minute, a left-footed shot from Lavelle, who has had a great game, goes just over the crossbar in the center of the net.
Kevin Baxter | 10:20 a.m.
Is it Carli Lloyd Time?
The Spanish bench players took the field at halftime with even the back-up goalkeepers kicking the ball about, then circling up for a rondo, the game of keep-away that has become a central drill at Barcelona. Ten of the women on Spain’s roster play their club soccer at Barcelona.
The entire U.S., meanwhile, retired to the locker room.
Speaking of bench players, this game looks to be heading toward Carli Lloyd Time. Lloyd is probably the best clutch scorer in the history of women’s soccer. She’s the only player, male or female, to score the winning goal in consecutive Olympic finals — in fact she’s the only American women to score in an Olympic final since 2004 — and she had a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the last Women’s World Cup final to turn a tense game into a laughter before anyone had even broken a sweat.
Both teams are out for the second half. There are no changes to either lineup.
Kevin Baxter | 10:05 a.m.
At halftime the score remains even, 1-1, with Megan Rapinoe scoring for the U.S. on a penalty kick in the sixth minute and Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso turned a bad pass from U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher into Spain’s first goal in three games in the ninth minute.
As the teams headed toward the intermission, in the 35th minute, Rapinoe sent a long right-footed shot wide of the net, then Sam Mewis fired wide to left with a shot from well outside the area.
By shooting from distance, the Americans are hoping to draw the Spanish defense out, opening up space behind the back four. In the 37th minute Rapinoe get a yellow card for inadvertently slapping Spain’s Marta Corredera in the face.
The strike was clearly unintentional and Corredera seemed to embellish it but the two players have been waging a fierce battle all evening. Rapinoe had words for the Spanish defender as the two walked back up the field, then ended the conversation with a friendly pat on the chest.
The Spanish radio commentator sitting next to me just chuckled and told his listeners this has been a great back-and-forth game. And it has been.
The U.S. had a comfortable lead in possession, 57-43%, in the first half, and in shots, 7 to 2.
Kevin Baxter | 9:50 a.m.
Dialing it in?
Midway through the first half the U.S. looks to be dialing it in.
After being exploited on the wings early, Spain’s defense is pushing wide and that’s opened up the middle. A couple of passes into the box — one from Sam Mewis and one from Rose Lavelle — have just missed their targets. Either one could have led to a goal.
In the 26th minute, Julie Ertz took a pass from Lavelle in the center of the box and turned, but her right-footed shot from 12 yards was well high.
A long through ball launches Spain’s Lucia Garcia on a breakaway but U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher comes well off her line to head the ball out of danger from the top edge of the box in the 28th minute.
At 30 minutes, when the teams paused for a hydration break, the U.S. had a 64-36 lead in time of possession. The score is even, 1-1.
Kevin Baxter | 9:32 a.m.
Megan Rapinoe had a chance to put the U.S. back in front in the 13th minute, taking a long, low through ball from Rose Lavelle deep in the penalty area but her left-footed shot at the near post was smothered by Spanish keeper Sandra Panos.
The U.S. strategy early seems to be to isolate Rapinoe on Spanish defender Maria Corredera, who is getting beat often.
A scramble in front of the Spain net in the 16th minute almost yields another U.S. goal but the defense closes ranks in front and somehow keeps the ball out. Tobin Heath and Sam Mewis both had good looks. Then in the 18th minute, a Crystal Dunn cross from the left side just misses the extended boot of a charging Alex Morgan in the center of the six-yard box.
Still 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Kevin Baxter | 9:20 a.m.
All tied up
Jennifer Hermoso equalizes for Spain in the ninth minute. A poor clearance from U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher intended for Becky Sauerbrunn that the defender couldn’t control. Lucia Garcia took the ball away and fed Hermoso, who lifted a shot over the retreating Naeher from the top of the box.
The goal is Hermoso’s third of this Women’s World Cup and the fourth for Spain in the tournament. It’s also the first the U.S. has allowed in the World Cup and the first it has given up anywhere since an April friendly with Australia.
Megan Rapinoe’s goal for the U.S. was the first on a penalty kick for the Americans in France. Carli Lloyd had a try late in the second half of the team’s win over Chile, but she pushed it wide of frame.
Kevin Baxter | 9:13 a.m.
U.S. takes an early lead
Spain with two shots in the opening minute. One by Patri Guijarro was cleared by defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who put her face in the ball’s path. If the ball had gotten by Sauerbrunn, it could have been a goal.
Unlike the three teams the U.S. faced in group play, Spain will not concede possession to the Americans. Spain had the ball 62% of the time in the group stage; only the U.S. has more possession in the first round.
Penalty! Tobin Heath chasing a long ball over the top is tripping in the box is tripped in box by Spain’s Maria Leon. After a VAR check, the PK is award. Megan Rapinoe takes it and coverts into the lower left corner.
U.S. up 1-0 in the sixth minute.
Kevin Baxter | 9:05 a.m.
Kickoff is moments away
The gray, leaden skies and rain that have marked this Women’s World Cup have given way to hot, humid conditions, the leading edge of a heat wave that is expected to bring record high temperatures to much of Europe this week.
At kickoff Monday in Reims, about 80 miles northeast of Paris, the heat index was 91 degrees with a slight cooling breeze. That’s nearly 30 degrees warmer than it was for last week’s group-play final with Sweden in the English Channel port city of Le Harve.
The U.S. is wearing white with blue and red trim and blue numbers; Spain is wearing a red jersey over black shorts with yellow trim and yellow numbers. Sign of the times?: There is one fan in the U.S. supporters’ section holding a banner that reads “Equal Pay.”
Spain, ranked No. 13 in the world, hasn’t scored since its group-stage opener – and even then two of its three goals came on penalty kicks. But Spain allowed just two goals in the three games; only the U.S., France, England and Germany – the world’s top four teams in the FIFA rankings -- did better defensively
Kevin Baxter | 9 a.m.
T-minus 30 minutes to kickoff
U.S. vs. Spain
The U.S. women’s national soccer team will start the strongest lineup it has used in this Women’s World Cup against Spain in today’s round-of-16 game (9 a.m. PT), with Alyssa Naeher in goal; Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Kelley O’Hara across the back line; Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis in the midfield; and Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath up front.
It’s the first time coach Jill Ellis has started these 11 players in the same game in this tournament since Sauerbrunn sat out the opener with a minor injury and Ertz missed the third game with a knock. In between Ellis cleared out her bench against Chile, giving every field player since World Cup minutes. Mewis is something of a surprise starter over Lindsey Horan, but Horan is sitting on a yellow card and would be forced to sit out a game if she got another today.
Rapinoe will wear the captain’s armband.
The U.S. cruised through group play, beating Thailand, Chile and Sweden by a combined 18-0. It’s the most goals ever scored in World Cup group play while the three shutouts mark the first time the Americans have not conceded a goal in the first round.
The U.S. has shut out eight of its last nine Women’s World Cup opponents dating to the last tournament in 2015 and hasn’t allowed a goal to anybody since an April friendly with Australia.
None of that counts for anything today. If Spain is a goal better, it advances to the tournament quarterfinals and the U.S., the reigning champion, goes home.