Women's World Cup 2019: USWNT gives Alyssa Naeher praise for game-changing penalty save

Naeher stopped a penalty kick from England's Steph Houghton, allowing USA to maintain its 2-1 lead in the 84th minute of Tuesday's match.

USA's players (in red) react after goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (left) saves the penalty. Photo: AP

Alyssa Naeher came up big for the U.S. in Tuesday's semifinal of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup as she made a huge save on a penalty in the second half, received praise from her coach and teammates after the 2-1 victory.

Naeher stopped England's Steph Houghton's attempt in the 84th minute to maintain USA's lead. If Naeher had missed that save, the outcome of the Tuesday's match could have been completely different.

REPORT | US 2-1 ENG

"Alyssa Naeher, she should be the player of the match today. She saved our butts today," Alex Morgan told reporters after the match. "We needed to stick to our defense at the end and we did it quite well. I'm so proud of every player who stepped up tonight. Our bench is so deep, and we showed that tonight. How can you beat this?"

USA coach Jill Ellis added: "That was her shining moment."

Naeher became the first USA goalkeeper to save a penalty at the Women's World Cup and the first in all competitions since Hope Solo did so in March 2015.

 

"It feels good. You just take a couple deep breaths and you try to get a good jump on it," Naeher explained. "(I) got a pep talk from Christen Press about six months ago just telling me I need to be more positive on penalty kicks and just relax and just let instincts take over. I give her some credit for that one for sure, keeping me calm."

Naeher said the celebration afterward made it even better and she could feel the support from her team-mates.

"The team celebrated that like we celebrated goal. That's huge. I wanted transition. I thought I could get down to the other side ... Just to be able to feel my team-mates excitement and joy, they've always had my back and I've always had theirs. To be able to share that moment together and play that out and finish out the game and get to the final is really exciting."

 

The Americans will now prepare for the final Sunday as they will face the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Sweden and Germany. 

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