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Megan Rapinoe caps spectacular World Cup with game-winning goal, claims Golden Boot

Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring the first goal in Sunday's World Cup final. (Francisco Seco/AP)

Just when you thought Megan Rapinoe’s spectacular performance at the World Cup couldn’t get any better, the U.S. women’s national team co-captain scored the game-winning goal in the Americans’ 2-0 win over the Netherlands in Sunday’s final.

U.S. women’s national soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe is no stranger to speaking up. The soccer star continues to publicly fight for her beliefs. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

Rapinoe, who missed last week’s semifinal win over England with a hamstring injury, finished the World Cup with six goals, tying her with teammate Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White for most in the tournament. She became the second American to win the tournament’s Golden Boot award, and also won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player.

U.S. wins Women’s World Cup title with 2-0 defeat of Netherlands

“It’s unbelievable,” Rapinoe, who became the oldest player to score in a Women’s World Cup final at age 34, told Fox after the game. “Just to know all of the people in our group that put in so much work, obviously the players. We have all our friends and family here. It’s surreal. I don’t know how to feel right now. It’s ridiculous.”

Rapinoe opened the scoring on Sunday by sending a penalty kick past Dutch goalie Sari van Veenendaal in the 61st minute. The penalty was awarded after referee Stephanie Frappart went to VAR to review a possible foul on Netherlands defender Stefanie van der Gragt, who caught Morgan in the right shoulder area with a high boot inside the box. Frappart issued van der Gragt a yellow card and Rapinoe converted her third penalty kick of the tournament. It was her 50th career international goal.

Rapinoe, long outspoken on a variety of political and social issues, has been particularly vocal about President Trump and her efforts to improve human rights. She issued an impassioned defense last week of her comments and actions about politics and patriotism, and was sharply critical on Saturday of the decision to hold multiple tournament finals on the same day as the World Cup championship game.

After the Americans won their fourth World Cup title, and second in a row, Rapinoe was asked what makes this group special.

Megan Rapinoe: '‘I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American’

“I don’t know,” she said. “We’re crazy. That’s what makes us special. We just have no quit in us. We’re so tight and we’ll do anything to win.”

Here’s a look back at Rapinoe’s other five goals in an unforgettable tournament.

Goal No. 1: Group Stage vs. Thailand, 79th minute

Rapinoe made an almost 70-yard run to sneak behind the defense before burying a shot to give the United States a 9-0 lead in its record-setting 13-0 rout during its first game of the group stage. Some critics thought the U.S. team, including Rapinoe, celebrated too enthusiastically against Thailand. The stereotype of the Americans as arrogant showboats followed them throughout the tournament.

“Wah, wah, wah," Rapinoe said after Morgan’s tea-sipping celebration in the U.S. team’s semifinal win over England drew criticism. "We’re at the World Cup. I don’t think anyone truly believes we disrespect the game or our opponents. What do you want us to do? We work hard, we like to play hard. “

Goal No. 2: Round of 16 vs. Spain, 7th minute

After Spain’s Maria Leon took down Tobin Heath in the right side of the penalty area, Rapinoe converted to give the United States a 1-0 lead.

Goal No. 3: Round of 16 vs. Spain, 75th minute

Late in the second half, with the score tied 1-1, Spain’s Virginia Torrecilla caught Rose Lavelle with a raised boot on the side of her lower right leg. The referee awarded a penalty and Rapinoe converted again, beating goalkeeper Sandra Panos to the left side for the second time in the match.

“She is never going to have to buy another drink,” U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn, whose misplay led to Spain’s tying goal, said after the United States’ 2-1 win. “I will supply her with whatever she needs.”

Goal No. 4: Quarterfinal vs. France, 5th minute

Rapinoe gave the United States a 1-0 lead with a free kick that somehow found its way between several French and American players in the box and past goalie Sarah Bouhaddi.

Goal No. 5: Quarterfinalf vs. France, 65th minute

Rapinoe doubled the Americans’ lead in the second half and then struck a pose after burying a cross from Tobin Heath past a sliding Bouhaddi. The United States held on for a 2-1 win.

Read more from The Post:

Melania Trump, Michelle Obama congratulate USWNT on World Cup triumph

USWNT’s World Cup domination, by the numbers

The World Cup has been a smash. But women’s soccer still craves an elusive goal: Lasting impact

The U.S. women are part of a movement. They won’t be the only female athletes to speak up.

Sunday feast of U.S. soccer has a bitter aftertaste for some