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USA women defeat England in World Cup semi-final without injured Megan Rapinoe

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Alex Morgan scored what proved to be the winner but hailed goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher after her late penalty save from Steph Houghton allowed holders the United States to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory over England in their women’s World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

On her 30th birthday, USA co-captain Morgan headed home her sixth goal of the World Cup just after the half-hour mark in this last-four showdown to put her team back in front after Ellen White had cancelled out Christen Press’s early opener.

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But after an open first 45 minutes, the second half was dominated by more VAR controversy, with England having another White goal disallowed for the tightest of offside calls following a review by the Brazilian referee.

Phil Neville’s team later benefited from Edina Alves Batista’s decision to award them a spot-kick when Becky Sauerbrunn made the slightest of contact with White in the box, yet Houghton’s 84th-minute kick was stopped by Naeher diving low to her right.

England finished with 10 players after Millie Bright was sent off for a second yellow card late on, and the USA held out to reach the final, despite being without the injured Megan Rapinoe.

“Alyssa Naeher, she should be the player of the match today. She saved our butts today,” said Morgan.

AFP / FRANCK FIFE Captain Steph Houghton’s late penalty miss cost England dear

They will now go on to face Sweden or the Netherlands in Sunday’s final, as they aim to win the trophy for the fourth time in eight editions. It is their third straight final, and they will hope to have Rapinoe back in time.

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“Megan’s got a slight strain to her hamstring so wasn’t available today,” said US coach Jill Ellis.

“I feel we have a really good deep bench, so I called upon other players and I think they did a fantastic job.”

It is another bitterly disappointing way for England to lose, as they go out of a third consecutive major tournament in the semi-finals. Their players cut dejected figures on the pitch at full-time.

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“Football can be cruel. We have had a fantastic ride. When we got the penalty I turned to my bench and said ‘we were going to win it,’ but it wasn’t to be,” Neville told the BBC.

– Rapinoe absence not felt –

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AFP / FRANCK FIFE Christen Press (R) celebrates after opening the scoring – she came into the side in place of the injured Megan Rapinoe

Perhaps Nikita Parris should have been given the chance to make up for her penalty misses against Argentina and Norway earlier in the competition? Ellis’s side will not be too worried about that, as fortune favored them.

That England could not take advantage of Rapinoe’s absence said much about the strength in depth available to the USA, with the excellent Press taking her place.

Unperturbed by the change, the Americans came flying out of the blocks like they have in every match at this tournament.

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They had scored no later than the 12th minute in all of their previous five matches, and here they required only 10 minutes to take the lead, Tobin Heath finding Kelley O’Hara whose cross from the right was headed in by Press at the far post.

Replacing the injured Karen Bardsley in goal, Carly Telford could do nothing to stop it, and England were stunned.

However, they were back level on 19 minutes as Beth Mead’s pinpoint delivery picked out White and she steered the ball in off the frame of the goal for her sixth of the tournament.

Yet it was the holders who went back in front just after the half-hour, Morgan stealing in front of Demi Stokes and heading home Lindsey Horan’s delivery. She celebrated by miming sipping on a cup of tea.

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As the USA tried to soak up pressure in the second half, England thought they were level in the 68th minute when Jill Scott’s flick picked out White to score, but VAR denied them the equalizer and her a seventh goal of the tournament.

Yet even when VAR came to their rescue, England failed to capitalize, and Bright’s late sending-off for a second yellow card as she scythed down Morgan summed up their frustration. They must now try to lift themselves for the third-place play-off on Saturday.


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Packers fans pile on Pence for jinxing team with boast they’d beat ‘Nancy Pelosi’s 49ers’ at rally last week

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Looking for someone to blame after the Green Bay Packers failed to make it to the Super Bowl, suffering a crushing defeat by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, fans of the midwestern team turned their ire on Vice President Mike Pence because he jumped on the Packer bandwagon last week at a rally saying they would beat "Nancy Pelosi’s 49ers."

With Packers fans facing the rest of a cold winter without their beloved team still in the hunt for their first title in years, Pence took a beating on Twitter for his comments with one fan claiming, "Pence jinxed us."

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‘Poisonous’ Ken Starr blasted in scathing op-ed for his ‘partisan’ history of subverting oversight

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In the wake of President Donald Trump hiring Ken Starr to defend him against impeachment — despite Starr's famous history of conducting a fishing expedition against President Bill Clinton that ended with him impeached for lying about a sexual encounter — The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky penned a scathing column reminding people who exactly Ken Starr is.

"It seems so inconsistent on its face! But for Starr, it’s 1,000 percent consistent. It’s who he is," wrote Tomasky. "He’s a political hack. A total partisan hatchet man. One of the most poisonous political figures of our time."

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2020 Election

Trump’s election was white America’s vicious backlash to black success: author

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Once, appearing on ESPN to discuss the controversy of Colin Kaepernick not voting, I suggested that instead of his abstinence disqualifying his say on the American situation, perhaps he had gone "full dissident" and recognized the accepted framework of sociopolitical involvement—the ride-alongs with cops, the listening to candidates owned by money, the insistence that deliberate, institutional racism is just a misunderstanding still unsorted—and found them useless. I further argued that if he saw an unredeemed, corrupt system as the problem, there was no reason for him to trust in it and even less reason to expect him to participate in it.Excerpted from "Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field" by Howard Bryant. Copyright 2020. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press.Full dissidence may or may not have applied to Kaepernick, but it certainly felt personal. The thoughts were neither new nor revelatory, certainly not to me or any black person who reaches a certain age, a certain rage or breaking point, but they were nevertheless true: Donald Trump's installation as president was a proud and unhidden repudiation of the nation's first black president, and no matter how many attempts at misdirection toward economic anxiety or some other, greater complex phenomenon, some element of taking back proprietorship of the country had appealed to an overwhelming number of white people who voted for him. With Trump's lies and distortions normalized by an overmatched, often complicit free press, the writer Michiko Kakutani referred to his presence as "the death of truth." Dozens of books followed along similar themes regarding the decline of standards and accountability, but underneath so much of the apparent discontent, from Charleston to Charlottesville, is an anti-blackness, a reminder of to whom the country belongs. This was a reclaiming.I do not say this hyperbolically, but Trump's election felt like a repudiation of a half century of black assimilation and aspiration to integration, of lifetimes of relationships, and of strategies and choices to better navigate the maze of white America. It didn't feel personal. It was personal. Something was dying, though at first I could scarcely pinpoint what, since I did not possess previously any great belief in this country's commitment to black equality, either on a state or personal level. In other words, I was already down following the election but I did not have far to fall.But whatever lack of faith I may have possessed in the colorblind, Utopian future, millions of black families did believe in it, and they risked their children to the aspirational pathways, whether rooted in the Christian ethics of kindness and compassion or in the possibilities of education. Central to that belief was the strategy of moving their families away into hostile white communities of Milwaukee and Long Island, placing their children into hostile school systems in Boston or Denver, for the purpose of better. Acceptance. Citizenship. This was the endgame to the faith, and the twin acts of the triumph of the Obama presidency, the Trump corrective, and the proud amorality that followed killed it.
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