CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in VANCOUVER: Jill Ellis, United States head coach, revealed she had allowed herself to envisage lifting the Women’s World Cup trophy before their 5-2 mauling of Japan in the final here.
Carli Lloyd was the star of the show in Vancouver’s BC Place stadium as her 15 minute hat-trick sent the US on the way to a convincing victory over the holders.
Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath also got on the scoresheet, while Japan had consolation goals from Yuki Ogimi and one from Julie Johnston who put one in her own net.
English-born Ellis said she always had faith that her team would avenge the 2011 final defeat and lift the trophy – though she admitted scoring five was beyond her pre-match visualisation.
“I just knew that the players could deliver and I said to them in the semi-finals, these players were born for big moments. This is what they relish,” she said.
“It’s no surprise as teams get harder and the pressure gets bigger, this team gets better and better. Did I envision the win? Yes, I’ll admit it, I envisioned us lifting the trophy. Five is kind of a dream come true!”
Japan head coach Norio Sasaki admitted that Lloyd’s treble, which included a long-range lob over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, was an embarrassment.
He said: “She scored two goals against us in the Olympic final, and she’s scored three against us here. It is embarrassing.”
But Sasaki was not going to be drawn into making excuses, admitting that his team were not good enough particularly at set-pieces from which they conceded the first two goals in the opening five minutes.
He was hopeful about the future and denied it was an end of an era for a team that defied expectations four years ago.
“This is not the end of Japan soccer,” he said. “We’ll look forward now to the Olympics next year, and we have also the East Asian Cup coming up.
“So we will go back to work and focus on that tournament”.
Meanwhile Lloyd, who won the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament, recognised the significance of what her team had achieved in winning the World Cup for the first time in 16 years.
“The amount of coverage and the amount of support we’ve had is inspiring,” she said. “We made history, we are a part of history. When I watched the ‘99 team play, never do you think you will be a part of that, to play in a world cup final and win.
“But as I’ve gotten older, within each year that self-confidence enabled me to continue doing what I’m doing. They were the pioneers – now it’s our turn to keep the tradition going and in four years’ time we want to be champions again.”