USA captain Carli Lloyd scored a 13-minute first half hat-trick as her team thrashed Japan 5-2 to win their third Women’s World Cup.
The Americans were determined to exert revenge on their opponents from Asia after they were beaten on penalties in a repeat final four years ago, and got off to a perfect start in Vancouver.
After five minutes, they were already 2-0 up thanks to a brace from Lloyd, and Lauren Holiday added another before the quarter-hour mark. The USA skipper completed her hat-trick on 16 minutes, but a Yuki Ogimi strike and a Julie Johnston own goal gave the holders hope.
However, Tobin Heath effectively ended the contest when she added a fifth before the hour, with the majority of the 53,341 crowd erupting at the final whistle after witnessing the highest-scoring final in the tournament’s history.
The United States’ pulsating start to the match was rewarded within three minutes as Lloyd slotted home Megan Rapinoe’s corner, and she added another two minutes later after the Japanese defence failed to clear a free-kick.
It was to get even worse for Norio Sasaki’s team nine minutes later after Azusa Iwashimizu’s poor clearance allowed Holiday to give USA a commanding lead.
Lloyd then scored the goal of the game after 16 minutes with an audacious effort from the halfway line which flew over Ayumi Kaihori in the Japan goal, making her the joint top goalscorer at the tournament with Germany’s Celia Sasic.
Iwashimizu was struggling so much that she was substituted in the 33rd minute, but her team-mate and former Chelsea forward Ogimi fired in before the interval to give the holders hope.
That hope was boosted even further seven minutes after the break as Johnston put into her own net but, just two minutes later, Heath took advantage of some more poor Japan defending to regain her side’s three-goal lead.
With the celebrations already beginning as the US closed in on becoming the first team to win the competition three times, 40-year-old USA defender Christie Rampone became the tournament’s oldest ever player when she came on as a substitute in the 86th minute, making her 309th appearance for her country.