USWNT holds on to knock off hosts France (video)

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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Megan Rapinoe scored twice as the United States reached its eighth-straight Women’s World Cup semifinal with a 2-1 defeat of hosts France in Paris on Friday.

Wendie Renard scored with an 81st minute header for France, her fourth in five matches.

The reigning champions are two wins away from defending their title, and will have to get past England on July 2 in Lyon.

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Sarah Bouhaddi was called into early duty when Megan Rapinoe tracked down a wayward touch and laid off to Julie Ertz for a hard drive.

It was Rapinoe’s free kick that put the U.S. in front, the left winger set up by an Alex Morgan-drawn foul. Her effort bounded through a sea of players but was untouched on its route to goal.

France was in possession for most of the rest of the half, and their passing only met its mark outside the final third. Targeting the Yanks’ left side, Crystal Dunn was busy.

Aside from the lively Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Becky Sauerbrunn impressed along with the edgy right back performance of Kelley O’Hara.

The Yanks came out of the gates hard, with Bouhaddi making a pair of saves on Sam Mewis and Tobin Heath in the 46th minute.

France had its best chance of the match a dozen minutes later with Alyssa Naeher unable to reach a back post cross but the hosts missing two decent chances to connect for an equalizer.

Naeher leapt to snare a looping header in the 64th minute, just after Jill Ellis brought on Horan to try and break up the French possession.

Rapinoe finished emphatically moments later, Heath’s cross into the box missing Mewis but finding the goal scorer for her brace.

Heath scored to make it 3-0, but the marker never reached the scoreboard thanks to Crystal Dunn being ruled offside. If she was, it was millimeters:

An O’Hara giveaway allowed Amandine Henry to test Naeher in the 78th, but the keeper got low to collect a shot from distance. And Naeher tipped a dangerous Eugenie Le Sommer side volley over the bar within a minute.

Renard got away from Horan to pound a header home in the 82nd to set up a grandstand finish.

O’Hara could’ve conceded a penalty if the handball rules were consistently enforced this tournament, but the call would’ve been harsh.