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Saturday 10 December 2016

US triumph with Lloyd hat-trick

Scoring three times in a Women's World Cup final would be a dream come true for most soccer players but not Carli Lloyd (inset).

The American captain fired a sensational hat-trick in a 5-2 rout of Japan last night then said she had dreamed of scoring four.

Lloyd fell just short of making her fantasy reality but the hat-trick, the first in a women's World Cup final, capped an outstanding tournament by the attacking midfielder.

She celebrated a first World Cup win while adding the Golden Ball award as the tournament's top player to a glittering resume that already includes two Olympic gold medals.

"I dreamed of and visualised playing in a World Cup final and visualised scoring four goals.

"Sounds pretty funny but that's what it is all about," Lloyd recalled.

No team had ever scored more than two goals in a final but the brilliant Lloyd went one better all by herself -- and within just 16 minutes.

"She's just a beast, man, she's unbelievable, a rock star," gushed US coach Jill Ellis. "I'm just so happy for her."

The 32-year-old also earned a spot on television highlight shows around the globe, completing her hat-trick with an outrageous long-range goal that will be part of Women's World Cup talk for years to come.

Gathering the ball in her own half, Lloyd spotted Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori far off her line and shot from the half-way line with the scrambling Japanese keeper only able to touch the ball on to the post and into the net.

"You train and train and train and I've dreamed of scoring one shot like that," said Lloyd.

"I did it once, I think, when I was younger on the national team in a training environment but very rarely do you just wind up and hit it.

"I think when you are feeling good mentally, physically, those are just instincts and it just happens.

"I feel like I just blacked out for the 30 minutes of that game."

What was an American dream was also a Japanese nightmare as Lloyd struck twice in the opening five minutes.

She has established herself as public enemy number one in Japan, having also scored both goals in the United States' 2-1 victory over the Asians in the London Olympics gold medal final four years ago.

But there were no hard feelings from Japan coach Norio Sasaki.

"Miss Lloyd always plays good against us," said Sasaki. "In London she scored two goals, today she scored three but she is an excellent player and I really respect her and admire her." (Editing by Ian Ransom)

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