Thursday 27 April 2017

USA and France cruise to victory at Olympic football

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The story of the game, Orianica Velasquez surrounded by US players. Photo: Roy Hay

USA 3 Colombia 0

Roy Hay

The defending Olympic champion made sure of its place in the quarter finals of the women’s tournament with a comfortable three-nil win over Colombia at Hampden Park in Glasgow. USA made three changes to the team which fought back to beat France by two goals to nil. Shannon Box was injured and did not come up, and Carli Lloyd her replacement started. Amy le Peilbet and Tobin Heath were replaced by Heather Mitts and Heather O’Reilly. Tatiana Ariza came on as a late substitute of Colombia against DPR Korea and held her place as did Daniela Montoya.

It took just over half an hour for the United States to get its first goal when Megan Rapinhoe, who had been running rampant down the left, took a pass from Alex Morgan and lifted it over the diminutive Colombian keeper, Sandra Sepulveda. Maria Usme who plays as Catalina tested the USA custodian, Hope Solo with a long shot from 45 metres, but this was almost as close as Colombia came to equalising. The USA had the ball in the net three times during the game but each time were flagged for offside or another infringement. In injury time in the first half Rapinhoe beat the keeper again but Colombian skipper Natalia Gaitan cleared off the very goal-line.

The second half saw the USA camped on the edge of the Colombian penalty area for long spells, but again it took time to turn possession into goals. Abby Wambach finished off an excellent combined move by taking a pass from substitute Tobin Heath to beat Sepulveda from inside the penalty area in the 74th minute. Three minutes later Rapinhoe released Carli Lloyd for a simple finish to complete the scoring. The USA look very strong in defence of their title, prepared to mix it physically and with constant high pressure running in support of the player on the ball. Colombia was unlucky not to get some consolation for their contribution to an entertaining match in front of 11, 313 hardy souls who braved the cold of a Scottish summer in support of the teams.

In other matches, Team GB also qualified for the knock-out stages with a three-nil win over Cameroon. Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Houghton scored for the home team. This opens the door for New Zealand to gain a place as one of the best third-placed teams if it can score heavily against the Africans in its final match. The Kiwis ran Brazil quite close, going down only by a goal to nil in Cardiff. Christiane got the goal in the 86th minute. Japan and Sweden played a scoreless draw and Canada thumped South Africa three-nil, with a goal by Melissa Tancredi and a double from Christine Sinclair.

France 5 DPR Korea 0

France on the ball. Photo: Roy Hay

France overran North Korea by five goals to nil in what was ultimately a clinical effort at Hampden Park this evening.

The first half saw the teams cancelling each other out, with action confined to midfield until the last minute of normal time.

France won a corner on the right and Laura Georges attacked the ball with a flying header past Jo Yun Mi in the Korean goal.

The second half was a complete transformation as France ran the Koreans off the park in a series of sweeping attacks.

Louisa Necib could have had two goals within the first few minutes.

Clean through on the left she poked a weak effort past the right hand post, then she had a second shot which Korean defender Kim Nam Hui almost deflected into her own goal.

French coach Bruno Bini made a double substitution in the 62 minute and the fresh legs overwhelmed the tiring Koreans.

Marie-Laure Delie, Elodie Thomis and Necib combined in a flowing move with Thomis finishing it off with the second goal in the 70th minute.

60 seconds late she got away down the right and crossed for Delie to finish.

A corner on the left in the 81st minute allowed towering defender Wendie Renard to outjump the defenders and head a spectacular goal.

Finally yet another substitute Camille Catala headed home from a cross by Thomis.

France versus DPR Korea. Photo: Roy Hay.

DPR Korea deserved a consolation goal for their contribution but were denied by an obdurate French defence in which Renard and keeper Sarah Bouhaddi dealt with everything they faced.

The Koreans now can hope to make the quarter-finals only if they get something from their final match against the United States which is a very tall order in all senses.

France can march on with confidence that their tournament is back on track and they would be favoured to beat Colombia in their last group match.

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