womens.wcCarli Lloyd lifted the United States to a dramatic 2-0 win over Germany in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals and warned a record third title was within their grasp.

In Frankfurt four years ago, Lloyd was one of three US players who missed in the shoot-out as Japan won the final 3-1 on penalties after the scores were locked at 2-2 at the end of extra-time.

But on Tuesday night, with the passionate cheers of 51,000 largely US fans resounding around Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Lloyd sank her penalty to open the scoring in a win that sent top-ranked Germany packing.

It set up a final showdown in Vancouver on July 5 with either champions Japan or England, who play their semi-final on Wednesday.

And Lloyd warned: “We didn’t come here to make the final, we came to win it and we’ve going to go after it in the next game.”

Lloyd followed her 67th-minute penalty by setting up substitute Kelley O’Hara to score six minutes from time. It was Lloyd’s third goal in three games and the first ever international goal for defender O’Hara.

The evening was even more dramatic as Germany’s Celia Sasic — the tournament’s top scorer with six goals — missed a penalty on the hour-mark.

“I think I’ve been taking PKs (penalty kicks) after training for the last seven to eight months,” explained Lloyd.

“Just repetition after repetition. I don’t know what was going on around me. I put the ball down and I knew I had to sink this PK.”

– ‘Dream come true’ –

Lloyd was a teenager when she watched the United States win their last title at home in 1999. They won their first in 1991 in China.

“I was a young girl at the time. I remember at Giants Stadium watching the women play, thinking to myself ‘this would be a dream come true to be a part of a team like this’,” said the 32-year-old.

“Never did I think it was really possible, let alone doing it for the last 10 years on this team.

“It’s really an honour and winning a World Cup would be an absolute dream come true.”

European champions Germany had a golden chance when US defender Julie Johnston pulled down Alexandra Popp in the box and was lucky not to see red.

But Sasic send her low spot-kick just wide of the US goal, to tears of relief from Johnston.

“It’s a team sport and today my team saved me. I messed up, and they got me out of it,” said Johnston, 23, who is playing her first World Cup.

The Americans were then awarded a contested penalty when Alex Morgan was brought down by defender Annike Krahn in a tackle that looked outside the box.

And Lloyd made no mistake as Nadine Angerer dived the wrong way in the Germany goal.

Fifteen minutes later, Lloyd pulled clear of her marker to run down the field, crossing to O’Hara, whose close-range winner sealed the fate of two-time champions Germany.

– ‘Different dynamics’ –

Lloyd, wearing the captain’s armband as Abby Wambach started on the bench, explained that she now had more of a leadership role compared to 2011.

“There’s a little bit of different dynamics,” said Lloyd, who has scored 66 goals in 201 caps.

“I’m finding myself in that veteran leadership role and I want to do everything possible to help the team because four years ago we came so close.

“It was an epic tournament. I feel we have really, really good momentum going into this final. It’s a good feeling.”

It was goalkeeper Hope Solo’s 10th clean sheet in World Cup play, equalling the tournament record of former US goalie Brianna Scurry.

“I’m proud of this team,” said 35-year-old Wambach, the USA’s all-time leading scorer, who came on for the last 10 minutes.

“Carli was incredible. My role is different today. I suffered on the bench but I accept this role and understand it.” – Agence France-Presse

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