VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Carli Lloyd came up big again. Three times.
And with it came the Americans’ elusive third Women’s World Cup title.
Lloyd scored a hat trick as the U.S. burst to a four-goal lead in the first 16 minutes, and the Americans overwhelmed defending champion Japan 5-2 Sunday for their record third championship and first since 1999.
A sellout crowd that included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden roared in approval for Lloyd’s hat trick, the first ever in a Women’s World Cup final.
When it was over, Lloyd collapsed to her knees and pumped her fists. Forward Abby Wambach bear-hugged teary-eyed coach Jill Ellis, lifting her off the ground.
Lloyd, voted the Golden Ball as player of the tournament, scored twice in a span of about 135 seconds as the U.S. led 2-0 by the fifth minute.
Lauren Holiday scored in the 14th and two minutes later Lloyd made it 4-0 with an audacious 54-yard, right-footed shot from midfield that sailed over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.
Japan closed on Yuki Ogimi’s goal in the 27th and an own goal by Julie Johnston in the 52nd. Tobin Heath scored two minutes later for the Americans, who had struggled in the World Cup since winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 and then again at the Rose Bowl eight years later.
Lloyd has won the Golden Ball as the most outstanding player in the Women’s World Cup.
Lloyd had a hat trick in the final as the U.S. defeated Japan 5-2 and finished with six goals in the tournament.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo won the Golden Gloves award as the top goalkeeper in the tournament. The United States defense was stellar throughout and went 540 minutes between the first match of the group stage and Sunday’s final without giving up a goal.
Canada’s Kadeisha Buchanan won the Best Young Player award and Germany’s Celia Sasic won the Golden Boot.
The United States took a 2-0 lead on two goals from Lloyd in the first six minutes.
Lloyd scored in the third minute off a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe that was driven low into the penalty box. Lloyd made a run from outside the box and one-touched the shot past Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.
Moments later, Lloyd scored again off a scramble in the penalty area in the sixth minute after a free kick from the U.S. just outside the Japan penalty area.
Lloyd scored her third goal of the first half catching Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line and scoring from midfield as the United States has taken a 4-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of the final.
Lloyd scored the two fastest goals in Women’s World Cup history, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the match. Lauren Holiday scored to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead when she volleyed a shot past Kaihori after a header from Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu went straight up in the air.
Moments later Lloyd took a speculative shot from midfield and completed her hat trick.
Japan got on the board with a goal from Yuki Ogimi, cutting its deficit to 4-1 and ending the United States’ streak of not allowing a goal at 540 minutes.
Ogimi scored just before the half-hour mark. She out-positioned Julie Johnston for a cross into the U.S. penalty area and beat American goalkeeper Hope Solo with a left-footed shot.
The U.S. had not allowed a goal since the opening match of the tournament against Australia.
Just when Japan appeared to have a glimmer of hope, Tobin Heath answered back in a hurry for the Americans.
Moments after Japan scored on an own goal, Heath scored off a scramble in the penalty area to give the United States a 5-2 lead.
Japan had just cut the deficit to 4-2 in the 52nd minute when U.S. defender Julie Johnston’s header went past goalkeeper Hope Solo and into the American net.
But the U.S. responded briskly with Morgan Brian laying off a pass into the middle of the box where Heath was unmarked.
The seven combined goals are the most ever in a Women’s World Cup final.