US celebrates Women's World Cup victory with kisses and confetti

  • United States players react as they receive the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup at BC Place Stadium. The United States won 5-2. 
  • United States forward Abby Wambach (20) celebrates with her wife Sarah Huffman after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. 
  • A Japan soccer fan reacts as she watches Japan’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final match against the U.S. in Vancouver, at a public viewing event in Tokyo, Japan, July 6, 2015. Japan lost the match 5-2 to the U.S. 
  • United States midfielder Lauren Holiday (12) celebrates with teammates after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. 
  • United States’ Megan Rapinoe hoists the trophy as she celebrates after defeating Japan to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015. 
  • United States’ players rush on to the field after the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship final against Japan in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015. The United States won 5-2.
  • Japan’s Saki Kumagai, from left to right, Kana Kitahara, Yuri Kawamura and Yuika Sugasawa react after losing to the United States during the FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday July 5, 2015. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
  • United States goalkeeper Hope Solo, right, and Japan’s Homare Sawa collide during the second half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015.
  • Abby Hacker, 10, and her father, Matt Hacker, watch the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team play Japan in the World Cup Final match at Legends bar on July 05, 2015 in New York City. The U.S. won 5-2.
  • United States midfielder Tobin Heath (17) celebrates with midfielder Morgan Brian (14) after scoring against Japan during the second half of the final of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup at BC Place Stadium. 
  • Japan’s goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, right, goes down after failing to save a goal scored by United States’ Carli Lloyd during the first half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015.
  • Goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori #18 of Japan reacts after giving up a goal to the United States of America in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. 
  • United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1), center, punches away a shot from Japan during the second half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015. 
  • United States players celebrate after they defeated Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015.
  • Tobin Heath #17 of the United States celebrates with teammates after Heath scores in the second half against Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. 
  • United States’ Alex Morgan is draped in the U.S. flag as she celebrates with teammates after the U.S. beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 5, 2015. 

of

Updated

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Under a thick haze and the smell of smoke from a blazing forest in the distance, Carli Lloyd caught fire on Sunday at BC Place.

Lloyd scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the Women’s World Cup final to lift the United States past Japan, 5-2 and deliver a record third World Cup title. Lloyd scored her third goal from midfield, driving the ball over Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.

Japan entered the match as reigning World Cup champions, having beaten the United States in penalty kicks in the 2011 World Cup final.

The World Cup title is the United States’ first since 1999. They are also three-time defending Olympic champions, having beaten Japan in the 2012 Olympic final in London.

QUIZ: How much do you know about US women’s soccer?

For two teams that entered Sunday’s final on the backs of defensive performances, the United States and Japan (but mostly the Americans – and even more specifically, Lloyd) combined to smash offensive records.

Lloyd became the first player in history to score a hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final; Michelle Akers is the only other player to net a multi-goal game in a final, scoring twice in 1991. Lloyd’s goal in the 3rd minutes was the fastest ever scored in a final. Lloyd also became the first American player to score in four straight World Cup games.

The seven combined goals is the most in a Women’s World Cup final, and the United States’s five goals is a record for one team.

In the 3rd minute, Lloyd beat Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu to the ball on Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick, and two minutes later Lloyd beat Iwashimizu again for her second goal. After mis-heading the ball up in the air just prior to the United States’ third goal – scored by Lauren Holiday – Iwashimizu was replaced in the 33rdminute by Homare Sawa, playing in her co-record sixth World Cup.

Japan managed to get a goal back before halftime through Yuki Ogimi, and a second goal just after halftime off the head of U.S. defender Julie Johnston.

But two minutes after that second Japan goal, U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath score the United States’ fifth goal, icing the match.

The United States finished the tournament unbeaten, winning all but one game – a scoreless draw against Sweden in the group stage.

A rough start in the opening minutes of the World Cup against Australia – when Hope Solo made two tournament changing saves and Megan Rapinoe scored her first of two goals early against the run of play – feels like a memory of year’s past. After the tie with Sweden, the Americans scraped past Nigeria to win Group D and then narrowly defeated 10-player Colombia in the round of 16 before coming into their own in the quarterfinal against China.

In that match, Ellis inserted Morgan Brian and allowed Lloyd to push higher up the field, a move that truly paid dividends in the semifinal against Germany, which the United States dominated.

Building off of those successes, U.S. coach Jill Ellis stuck with the same starting XI from the semifinal in Sunday’s final against Japan, freeing up Lloyd to sit behind Morgan and do what she does best: Push forward and score goals.

U.S. forward Abby Wambach played in her final World Cup match, entering the game in the 79th minute for Tobin Heath. It was also the final World Cup match for Sawa.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography

This article first appeared at NBCSports.com

Speak Out