Five Matches key to Courage’s Third Consecutive Shield

WE'RE GOING American this week… ahead of the NWSL playoffs we’re reflecting on the North Carolina Courage’s campaign. The ‘Shield’, which is awarded to the team with the best regular season record, has already made its way back to the catchily titled Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park – for a third consecutive year. Here, D2B looks at five matches that were central to the Courage retaining their title...

FIFA Women’s World Cup Day 31:

THE USA successfully defended their world crown, beating the Netherlands in Lyon to secure their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup title. Golden Ball and Golden Boot Winner, Megan Rapinoe, gave Team USA the lead from the penalty spot after VAR correctly adjudged that Stefanie van der Gragt had fouled Alex Morgan. Bronze Boot winner Rose Lavelle put the result beyond doubt with a left-footed strike from the edge of the box...

FIFA Women’s World Cup Day 30:

SWEDEN took the bronze medal match in Nice, despatching England with a ruthless opening half hour in which they struck twice; then doggedly defending out the remainder of the game. Kosovare Asllani got the scoring under way on 11 minutes driving past Carly Telford following a poor defensive clearance. Sofia Jakobsson then added a second, cutting in from the left and curling past the England keeper. Fran Kirby halved the deficit on 31 minutes, and Ellen White had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball shortly after...

FIFA Women’s World Cup Day 27:

JACKIE GROENEN’S extra time strike was enough to take the Netherlands to their first World Cup Final. With chances at a premium, it was goalkeepers Sari van Veenendaal and Hedvig Lindahl that shone, making several world-class stops between them. But Lindahl could do nothing about Groenen’s low 20-yard drive that puts Sarina Wiegman’s European Champions on a collision course with the USA in Lyon this coming Sunday...

FIFA Women’s World Cup Day 23:

THE NETHERLANDS progressed to their first World Cup semi final beating Italy in the searing heat of Valenciennes with two straightforward set-pieces. Vivianne Miedema put Oranje Leeuwinnen into the lead on 70 minutes, heading in Sherida Spitse's free-kick from the left. Stefanie van der Gragt doubled their tally rising to nod home another Spitse dead ball delivery this time from the right...