Vancouver, July 6: US coach Jill Ellis hailed the "hot" form of Carli Lloyd whose 13-minute hat-trick marked a goal run which set the United States on the way to a 5-2 World Cup rout over defending champions Japan.
The 32-year-old had scored in the Stars and Stripes' three previous games against top-ranked Germany, China and Colombia so Ellis opted to play the midfielder up front beside sole forward Alex Morgan.
And the decision paid off with the Americans leading Japan 4-0 after just 16 minutes at BC Place Stadium.
"When you go through a tournament of seven games there's peaks and valleys and players get hot and you kind of ride with the players that get hot," explained Ellis.
"For Carli, the attacking part of her game she was doing tremendously well.
"It was a natural decision for me to put her in a higher position and play her there.
"I still make her defend but she relishes that role. I'm incredibly proud of all the players who stepped up."
Lloyd opened after just three minutes on front of 53,341 mostly US fans in Vancouver with the second coming two minutes later.
Lauren Holiday found the net on 14 minutes and Lloyd claimed a sensational third from the middle of the pitch after 16 minutes.
It gave the player from New Jersey six goals in the tournament and the Golden Ball award for the top player.
Yuki Ogimi got one back on 27 minutes, with US defender Julie Johnson's 52nd-minute own-goal giving Japan a second.
But two minutes later Tobin Heath got a fifth in past goalie Ayumi Kaihori in what was the highest-ever scoring women's World Cup final.
It gave the United States an unprecedented third world title after 1991 and 1999 and avenged their loss to Japan on penalties in the 2011 final.
"That was one of our mantras - "start fast, finish strong'," said Ellis, who had coached various national youth and university teams before being appointed US head coach in May 2014 after Tom Sermanni was sacked.
The 48-year-old English-born coach said that despite the criticism she had never doubted the team.
"It had to be a fast process, I was hired about a year ago. Yes there's been some growing pains and such, its not vindication, it's not validation it just feels really, really good," she said wiping tears from her eyes.
"I just knew that the players could deliver, these players were born for big moments, this is what they relish.
"For me it's no surprise, as the teams get harder and the pressure gets harder they get better, because that's in their DNA, that's how they're engineered.
"Did I envisage us winning? Yes I let myself go, I envisaged us lifting the trophy, but five is kind of a dream come true."
Lloyd admitted it was hard to take in.
"It's a surreal moment, we just wrote history today and brought this World Cup trophy home which is unbelievable," said Lloyd, who also scored the goals that gave the US victory over Japan in the 2012 Olympics.
"There was something different in the air within our team these last few days, there was no hesitation, there was no doubt, we were just super excited, super anxious to start this game.
"We knew that if we take it to Japan they were going to start to get nervous on the pitch.
"We locked them in, we pressured them, we scored early, which was fantastic, it was just great."
Veteran forward Abby Wambach, the USA's leading all-time goal scorer, came on for the last ten minutes, with Lloyd handing her the captain's armband.
"I'm speechless, on the bench it was like I was in a dream, I'm so proud of this team," said the 35-year-old.
"Four goals in a quarter of an hour, it's surreal. It wasn't just Carli Lloyd but she really showed how fantastic she is.
"Who would have imaged such a crazy game. I said to myself 'I've died and gone to heaven'." AFP