REIMS, France — Megan Rapinoe’s second penalty kick of the game in the 76th minute broke a 1-1 to lift the United States into the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Spain on Monday at Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims, France.
The win sets up the long anticipated matchup between the defending champion U.S. and host France at Parc des Princes in Paris on Friday.
“Part of this is grit and resolve,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “But I think at times we played really, really good soccer.
“I’m proud of our second half, just gutting it out and everybody contributing.”
Rapinoe, who scored in the 7th minute for a 1-0 lead, got the winner after Alex Morgan originally planned to shoot from the spot.
But after a video review confirmed that Spain’s Virginia Torrecilla had fouled Rose Lavelle with a foot to the leg, it was the U.S. captain who stepped up and buried the strike under the outstretched right arm of diving goalkeeper Sandra Panos.
The U.S., a three-time champion, was able to hold on and advance past the quarterfinals in all five World Cups.
“The heart and the grit and the resolve, that’s a big part of World Cup soccer,” Ellis said. “No game is ever easy in this tournament. We know that.”
The score was tied at 1 at halftime after Spain got the equalizer from Jennifer Hermoso in the 9th minute.
The U.S., having defeated Sweden on Thursday to complete Group F play, played on three fewer days rest than Spain, although the Americans were able to use all 20 field players through the first three matches.
Spain used a gaffe by U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to overcome Rapinoe’s first goal, who scored her 46th international goal after Tobin Heath drew a penalty from Maria Leon on the left side of the box.
The lead would not last long. Naeher, in her first World Cup after backing up Hope Solo in the 2015 World Cup, had little to do in this tournament in the group stage. She was finally tested early by Spain. Naeher felt the high pressure attack and her outlet to defender Becky Sauerbrunn was picked off by Lucia Garcia.
She quickly found Hermoso for the chip from 21 yards that ended the U.S. shutout streak at 647 minutes.