Alex Morgan goal, Alyssa Naeher save in win over England send U.S. to final

LYON, France — Alex Morgan celebrated her go-ahead goal with a cheeky tea-sipping motion and Alyssa Naeher stopped a late penalty kick to send the United States into the final of the Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over England on Tuesday.

The top-ranked United States will face the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden in the Americans’ third straight appearance in the World Cup title match.

Stanford alum Christen Press — who started with Megan Rapinoe out with a hamstring injury — put the United States up early in the match but Ellen White’s goal tied it before 20 minutes had passed. Morgan’s sixth goal of the tournament came before the break, and on the Cal alum’s 30th birthday. She hadn’t had a goal since she scored five in the team’s 13-0 rout of Thailand to open the tournament.

“I think we’ve put so much into this journey together — and now we have one more game to close it,” said Morgan, whose 107th international goal moved her into a tie for fifth on the U.S. career list with Michelle Akers.

White’s goal was also her sixth. She appeared to score her seventh in the 69th minute but video review determined she was offside — and the Americans in the crowd of 53,512 at Stade de Lyon roared.

A video review went against the U.S. late in the game when it determined Becky Sauerbrunn had fouled White in the penalty area. England captain Steph Houghton’s penalty shot was smothered by a diving Naeher in the 84th minute.

It was the first penalty kick saved by a U.S. goalkeeper in regular time at the World Cup. At the final whistle, the team mobbed Naeher in front of the goal in celebration.

The mild-mannered goalkeeper was asked afterward if it was the biggest save of her life. “Probably up there, yeah,” she said, smiling.

The Americans have been to the semifinals of all eight World Cups, and they’ve won the trophy three times, more than any nation. The U.S. team’s lone loss in a World Cup title match came to Japan in 2011.

Third-ranked England went through to the semifinals in 2015 but fell to Japan before beating Germany in the third-place match for the Lionesses’ best finish in the tournament.

“No words that I can say tonight will make them feel any better,” England coach Phil Neville said.

Anne M. Peterson is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Alex-Morgan-goal-Alyssa-Naeher-save-in-win-over-14068145.php.

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