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The World Cup battle between Lindsey Horan and Daniëlle van de Donk was an all-timer

The USWNT vs. Netherlands World Cup group stage match on Wednesday night was a fascinating midfield battle that epitomized the old cliché of it being "a game of two halves."

In the opening 45, the Dutch diced the Americans apart with a precision so masterful that it resembled ease. In reality, it's very difficult to turn the USWNT's finely tuned press against themselves, but the Netherlands were a Clockwork Oranje with clever movement, one-touch play and numerical superiority.

Much of that threat involved forward Lieke Martens dropping deeper on the left-hand side to combine with Jill Roord and Daniëlle van de Donk. These three were giving Savannah DeMelo and Andi Sullivan the runaround, and it wasn't surprising to see the Netherlands open the scoring in the 17th minute with Martens providing the impetus and Roord the finish.

However, the battle shifted in the second half with the introduction of Rose Lavelle for DeMelo. The USWNT was suddenly on the attack and the Dutch on the defensive, epitomized on the hour mark by Van de Donk clattering Lindsey Horan on the touchline.

The USWNT earned a corner directly after that, and Horan could be seen chirping at Van de Donk before Lavelle's delivery. Horan ultimately got on the end of it, and she said her anger at Van de Donk largely fueled the goal.

"That's where you get the best football from Lindsey," Horan said afterward. "I don't think you ever want to get me mad because I don't react in a good way. Usually I just go and I want something more — I want to win more, I want to score more, I want to do more for my team. So that moment, that little tackle — big tackle — changed a shift in my head because I want to do everything for my team and to win these games." 

The two, however, are teammates at Lyon and great admirers of each others playing styles.

Asked about the moment, Van de Donk said: "I think it was just a duel along the sideline that I won. She's a bit like me — she's a bit feisty and she came over. We had a little talk and the referee came in between but it wasn't really necessary. We just played football again after that."

Van de Donk herself was on the receiving end of a tough challenge during second-half extra time that left her bandaged in a swim cap. She then had to perform media duties while still wearing it because, and I quote: "It's bleeding like a mother fucker."

This is what the World Cup is all about. 

The USWNT returns to action on Tuesday morning against Portugal at 3 a.m. ET.

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