The US women's national team met the challenge of the world's No. 1-ranked team in Montreal on Tuesday, and beat it.
The USWNT's march to the Women's World Cup trophy continued with a taut, absorbing semifinal win over mighty Germany, as a penalty kick from Carli Lloyd, a late clincher by substitute Kelley O'Hara and a missed PK by German star Celia Sasic delivered the Yanks a 2-0 win in front of 51,126 fans, most of them US supporters, at Olympic Stadium.
Coach Jill Ellis' team now move on to Vancouver, site of Sunday's final, and await the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between England and defending champions Japan.
The pregame favorites, Germany made a bright start to the match. Yet Julie Johnston tested German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer in the opening stages with a redirection of a US corner kick at the near post, drawing a smart reaction save from Angerer, who plays her club soccer at the Portland Timbers' sister club Thorns FC.
But the best early chance fell to Alex Morgan, who was sent clear in the Germany penalty box in the 14th minute. However, with the goal gaping, the USWNT star fired her shot off her Thorns teammate's left leg and the opportunity went begging.
The game hit a significant delay around the half-hour mark when Alexandra Popp and Morgan Brian clashed heads in a grisly-looking collision as they vied for a Germany set-piece delivery into the US box, leaving both players sprawled on the turf in pain.
Popp's injury was bloodier, while Brian seemed dazed by the impact. But both were eventually able to resume play after receiving treatment.
The US threatened Angerer's goal again soon afterward, with Meghan Klingenberg, then Tobin Heath both seeing shots blocked by the German defense, who were nonetheless looking uncharacteristically skittish around their goal as the Yanks asserted themselves.
Moments before halftime, Morgan chipped the ball past defender Annike Krahn and advanced on Angerer from a tight angle, but miscued her shot well wide.
This is a hell of a game.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) June 30, 2015
The USWNT went close again not long after the opening whistle of the second half, as Lloyd found herself with a free header from near the penalty spot on a corner kick. But her angled bid bounced wide right by a few feet.
Slowly but surely, as the missed USMNT chances stacked up, Germany began to climb into the ascendancy, and they broke through when Johnston made perhaps her first mistake of the tournament.
Tracking a bouncing ball into her own box, the US center back wasn't aware of Popp's proximity just behind her, and when Johnston tried to chest the ball down, Popp nipped in and Johnston tugged her back, drawing a yellow card and a penalty kick for Germany.
Sasic stepped up to the spot kick in the 63rd minute and sent Hope Solo the wrong way – but the German striker stunningly missed the goal, shooting wide of the left post as a tearful Johnston watched and Olympic Stadium's large contingent of US fans roared.
The Yanks did not wait long to exploit that massive letoff.
Morgan – who'd been tormenting Krahn for most of the evening – ran at the German center back yet again and drew a clumsy foul that on first glance seemed to take place just outside the box. But Romanian referee Teodora Albon pointed to the spot, and Lloyd did what Sasic could not, stroking her PK into the right side of the net for a 1-0 USWNT lead in the 69th minute.
And Lloyd was not done.
Surging forward into the German box in the 83rd minute, the US midfielder used a slick stepover to reach the endline and cut a cross back into the goalmouth.
O'Hara – who'd come on for Heath a few minutes prior – launched herself at the waist-high ball and got the touch that deposited it in the back of the net for a 2-0 lead the USWNT protected calmly down the stretch.