REIMS, France The U.S. didnt so much win its Womens World Cup game with Spain on Monday as it did escape it.
The Americans entered the elimination rounds of the tournament unchallenged, unscored upon and unbeaten. In 90 intense minutes, Spain ticked off the first two of those boxes and almost got the third before the U.S. prevailed 2-1 on the second of two Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks to advance to a long-anticipated quarterfinal showdown with France on Friday in Paris.
If the U.S. was happy to have survived, though, it was also thankful for the challenge Spain provided. Because after a group stage in which the Americans set a World Cup record by scoring 18 goals and tied one by not giving up a goal, even the players admitted everything had seemed too easy.