The Portland Thorns win Challenge Cup final in penalty kick thriller

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The matchup between Gotham FC and the Portland Thorns was fitting of a final.

High on drama and excitement, the championship game came down to the wire, with the Thorns narrowly defeating Gotham FC in sudden death PKs.

Portland dominated much of the first 45 minutes, dictating possession and out-shooting Gotham.

The opening goal of the match came in the 8th minute thanks to Portland’s suffocating counter-press.

After collecting a turnover in the midfield, Christine Sinclair charged toward goal. With no one pressuring her, the Canadian star decided to take it herself. Sinclair, punishing Gotham’s defense, tucked a pitch-perfect bender past DiDi Haracic to put her side up 1-0.

Portland nearly doubled their lead in the 39th minute with a free kick just outside the box. Lindsey Horan’s long-range effort was ultimately denied by the post, giving Gotham FC some much-needed breathing room before the half.

The second half is when things really started to heat up.

After hanging tough all match, Gotham equalized in the 61st minute. Imani Dorsey’s lofted ball into the box found the head of Carli Lloyd, who rose over Becky Sauerbrunn to nod the cross into the back of the net.

The final minutes saw a series of good offensive chances for both sides.

Haracic came up big in the 87th minute to deny Sinclair her second goal and keep Gotham in the game.

1-1 at the final whistle, the game would be decided by penalty kicks.

With both teams even after five PKs, it was a monster save by Adrianna Franch and a goal from Morgan Weaver that ultimately put Portland over Gotham to win the championship.

Franch’s heroic game-winning save earned the Portland keeper Challenge Cup final MVP honors.

The Thorns, now Challenge Cup champions, will also be the heavy favorites going into the NWSL 2021 season. For Gotham, they may have fallen short today, but even making it to the final was a victory for the once-embattled franchise.