The group stage of the women’s soccer (excuse me, football) tournament wrapped up today, with Canada and New Zealand securing their places in the quarterfinals by finishing third in their groups. The U.S. shined in the first international women’s football match at famous Old Trafford in Manchester, and Great Britain stunned defending silver medalists Brazil at Wembley. More on the full day’s results below.
USA vs North Korea
The U.S Women’s National Team completed the group stage sweep this afternoon, defeating North Korea 1-0 at historic Old Trafford in Manchester. It was the first women’s soccer match at the venue since 1989, and first ever at the international level.
Abby Wambach scored the lone goal in the 25th minute, set up beautifully on a long ball from Lauren Cheney over the top and into the penalty area for Alex Morgan. Morgan corralled it, worked around two defenders, and then slipped back to Wambach, who had no trouble slotting it past the keeper for her third goal of the tournament and 141st overall.
With the win, the 2004 and 2008 gold medalists finished with 9 points, securing first place in Group G and a quarterfinal date with New Zealand this Friday. After giving up 2 goals in the first 13 minutes of their opening match against France, the U.S. has recorded a clean sheet over the last 257 minutes of play, while scoring eight goals, the most of any team in the tournament.
Great Britain vs Brazil
Great Britain stunned Brazil with a 1-0 win at Wembley Stadium in front of over 70,000 supporters to finish with a perfect 3-0 record at the top of Group E. Stephanie Houghton put the host nation up 1-0 in the second minute of the match, off a corner kick from Kelly Smith, and Great Britain held off a furious rally from the 2008 silver medalists.
Both teams had already secured their place in the quarterfinals before the match, but with the win, Great Britain will now face Canada in the knockout stage, while Brazil will face the reigning World Cup Champions, Japan.
Canada vs Sweden
Canada booked their ticket to the quarterfinals with a 2-2 draw against Sweden, storming back from down 2-0 in the opening minutes, to finish third in Group F. Melissa Tancredi scored both goals for Canada, while Marie Hammarstrom had a goal and an assist in Sweden’s goals in the 14th and 16th minutes. Canada will next face Great Britain, while Sweden will match up with France.
France vs Colombia
First-time Olympians Colombia lost 1-0 to France to end their tournament hopes with no goals and without Lady Andrade, who was suspended by FIFA for two games following her “sucker punch” on Abby Wambach in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the U.S.A. They did, however, debut 19-year old Yoreli Rincon, who has drawn comparisons to Brazil’s Marta:
There had been suggestions back in Colombia of a conflict between the rising star and coach Ricardo Rozo, but the manager said that the 19-year-old forward just wasn’t fully fit to play in the previous two games.
With Colombia struggling to control possession, Rincon wasn’t able to pose much of a threat during the time she was on the field on Tuesday.
France’s Elodie Thomis scored in the 5th minute off a breakaway, and had a clear shot on goal after Colombia’s keeper, Sandra Sepulveda, came off her line to try to prevent the shot.
New Zealand vs Cameroon
Another first-time Olympian, Cameroon scored their first goal in their final match of the tournament, but also allowed an own goal, falling 3-1 to New Zealand. New Zealand grabbed their first win and points of the tournament, finishing third in their group with 3 points to grab the final spot in the quarterfinals, reaching the knockout round for the first time ever.
Japan vs South Africa
Japan and South Africa played to a scoreless draw, but it wasn’t just stellar defense from South Africa that kept the World Cup Champions off the scoresheet:
The outcome left Japan second in Group F, meaning it will now play either Britain or Brazil in Cardiff on Friday. If it had won the match, it would have faced the top-ranked United States or France, another strong team, in Glasgow, also on Friday.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki used substitutes in the second half and told them to keep possession and not score, based on how the other match in Group F was going. In that match, Canada drew 2-2 with Sweden, meaning Sweden topped the group.
Japan will match up against Brazil on Friday — certainly not an easy task, but certainly preferable to drawing the U.S. at this stage.