Megan Rapinoe struck twice as the United States beat hosts France 2-1 in the women's World Cup quarter-finals at the Parc des Princes on Friday to set up a last-four clash with England.
Rapinoe, who was involved in a spat with U.S. President Donald Trump during the build up to the game, opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a low-struck free-kick from the left that went in untouched through a crowd of players.
The 33-year-old Rapinoe added their second goal in the 65th minute and although France got back in the game with a Wendie Renard header in the 81st, the U.S held firm to maintain their record of never missing out on the World Cup semi-finals.
A night which showed just how far the women's tournament has grown, with thousands of travelling American fans in a sell-out 45,000 crowd, ended in disappointment for the hosts.
Corinne Diacre's French team played attractive, passing football but, while their style was more contemporary and aesthetically pleasing, it was the killer edge of the experienced Americans that proved decisive.
"You have to give it up to the French team. They outplayed us for sure with the ball today," said Rapinoe.
"But we were so good defensively, so strong. We hit them where it hurt, we took our chances. This team has an unreal amount of heart," she added.
Heart and brains too.
Seeing the French defence had put just two players in the defensive wall for the early free-kick, Rapinoe accepted the invitation and her low drive flew through a crowded area and past unsighted goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.
The U.S have scored in the opening 12 minutes of every game in this tournament and they also could draw on the fact that they have never lost after taking the lead in a World Cup game.
France's hopes of turning the match around depended on them opening up the American defence with their clever passing but while they impressed in build-up play they created few openings.
France right winger Kadidatou Diani put left-back Crystal Dunn under intense pressure with her frequent dribbles down the flank, while on the left Amel Majri pushed progressively into an advanced role to the consternation of right-back Kelly O'Hara.
Yet despite all that promising play in the wide areas, the French struggled to provide striker Eugenie Le Sommer with real quality service and, having survived a wave of pressure after the interval, Rapinoe struck again.
Alex Morgan's clever through ball put Tobin Heath into space on the right and her low cross, pulled back behind the French line, found the hovering Rapinoe who slotted home her fifth goal of the tournament with confidence.
Heath's effort that would have wrapped up the game was ruled out for offside, and France responded with one last push.
With nine minutes of normal time remaining, the home side finally got some reward when Renard rose above the American defence, whose marking was unusually sloppy, to glance in a header from a Gaetane Thiney free-kick.
Jill Ellis's U.S. side may not have the quality of passing and movement shown by the French but they certainly are not a side that are going to give up a two-goal lead.
Next up for the holders are England on Tuesday in Lyon.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.