July 5, 2015 / 11:40 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. captain Lloyd hits hat-trick in 16 minutes into World Cup final

United States midfielder Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Japan during the first half of the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, (Reuters) - United States captain Carli Lloyd struck a sensational hat-trick inside the opening 16 minutes of the Women’s World Cup final, including a goal from the half-way line, as her team took a shock 4-0 lead against Japan on Sunday.

The opener came in the third minute when Megan Rapinoe drove a low diagonal ball across the area and Lloyd timed her run to perfection, meeting the ball with a powerful, first-time drive past Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori.

If Japan were shocked by conceding so early, they were utterly stunned when two minutes later Lloyd doubled the lead - again from a set-piece.

Again it was a low ball into the box, this time from a Lauren Holiday free-kick which the Japan defense failed to clear with the ball falling for Lloyd to gleefully slotted home.

Japan had barely time to regroup before they found themselves 3-0 down in the 14th minute when an awful attempted headed clearance from Azusa Iwashimizu fell to Holiday on the edge of the box, who blasted in a volley.

Two minutes later came one of the most remarkable goals ever witnessed in a Women’s World Cup when Lloyd, gathering the ball in her own half, saw Kaihori far off her line and shot from the half-way line with the scrambling Japanese keeper only able to touch the ball onto the post and into the net.

Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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