Injured Rapinoe ‘expects’ to be fit for World Cup final
USA coach Jill Ellis had caused a stir when her starting XI did not feature the 33-year-old despite her dragging her side to the semi-finals with match-winning performances against Spain and France, and she revealed that she had picked up the knock late in the quarter-final win over the French.
“It’s just minor hamstring, not even a strain really, but not really able to go today. It felt like it wasn’t going to hold up so … it just felt like this was the best option for the team,” said Rapinoe.
“I’m expecting to be fit for the final and ready to go.”
Rapinoe scored both goals in the holders’ 2-1 quarter-final win against hosts France, having also hit a double against Spain in the last 16.
After missing Tuesday’s clash she is now one behind the tournament’s joint top scorers Alex Morgan and Ellen White, who both netted to take their tallies to six.
The change was one of two made by Ellis, with the other seeing Lindsey Horan returning in midfield in place of Samantha Mewis and laying on Morgan’s winner with a pinpoint cross.
“Megan’s got a slight strain to her hamstring so wasn’t available today,” said Ellis after the match.
“I feel we have a really good deep bench so I called upon other players and I feel they did a fantastic job.”
However the reigning world champions had to thank goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for the win after she pushed away Steph Houghton’s penalty minutes from the end.
“Holy shit, That was just a huge moment! I was stressed out I couldn’t even move,” she said to reporters.
“To come up big in that moment, for herself personally but for the team as well is just so massive. It can’t be overstated.”
England coach Phil Neville meanwhile made three changes, including bringing in Carly Telford in goal in place of Karen Bardsley, who had reportedly also suffered a hamstring injury.
Chelsea goalkeeper Telford made her second appearance in France after starting in the 1-0 win over Argentina in the group phase, but could do nothing to stop Morgan and Rapinoe’s replacement Christen Press from scoring the goals that took the Americans into Sunday’s final in Lyon.
In addition to that change, Rachel Daly and Beth Mead, who set up Ellen White’s 19th-minute leveller, also came in for Fran Kirby and Toni Duggan.
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