Colombia Stuns France 2-0
MONCTON, New Brunswick -- The first truly surprising result of the tournament took place when Colombia defeated France 2-0 on Saturday. Few could have expected that result from the lightly regarded South American country against the No. 3-ranked team in the world.
Here are three observations from the game.
1. Colombia's goal shocked new life into Women's World Cup
Part of what makes any World Cup exciting is the potential for upsets, but even though there had been some gutsy play, like in Nigeria's opening draw against Sweden, the closest game to an upset might have been China's late defeat of the Netherlands. When a former finalist winning a group game is considered an upset, things aren't really unpredictable. Blowouts like Germany's game against the Ivory Coast (10-0) and the Swiss against Ecuador (10-1) also didn't give rise to the idea that the lesser-known teams in the tournament were ready to make some noise.
Colombia hardly seemed like a candidate, given that it had only scored for the first time in any Women's World Cup in their first game against Mexico. Lady Andrade's goal against one of the pre-tournament favorites shattered all those assumptions, as she ran onto a beautiful ball that arced over the top of the unwary French back line and slotted calmly past goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.
It woke everyone, not just France, into the realization that shocking upsets are possible in women's soccer. They're exciting, too. This whole tournament just got more lively.
Ranked No. 28, Colombia is the lowest-ranked team to beat a top-10 team at the Women's World Cup since FIFA rankings began in 2003.
Colombia attempted just three shots, two on goal, to France's 21 shots (six on goal).
2. The officiating is still an issue and France wasn't used to it
The referees in Frances's opening game were generally consistent, but for Colombia and Mexico, both sides had complaints about missed calls. Colombia seemed to have decided that it might as well try to see what the refs might let them get away with. The officiating crew seemed tentative throughout the France versus Colombia game, which resulted in a lot of things let go.
Thus, there were a number of times when France's attack got bogged down because it looked incredulously for a call. Colombia couldn't be bothered, playing its quick, aggressive style almost without taking any notice of the refs. If the players were caught, they shrugged and played on. If they got away with it, like on a handball in the box in the 69th minute that pushed the ball out of the control of Eugenie Le Sommer, who was helplessly indignant, they were cavalier about France's frustration. All that mattered was the win, and they pursued it by any means necessary.
3. Respect the counterattack
France coach Philippe Bergeroo might have made a tragic miscalculation in strategy. His squad was carefully building up play, only to watch Colombia speed in the other direction time and again.
France was trying to exhibit the precision it had in its first match, but it was tough going against a squad that kept running and feeding the wings. Despite Colombia's consistent approach, France was positively lackadaisical in defending in stoppage time, when it was pushed up for the equalizer. Instead of hustling to clear, Bouhaddi took time for a controlling touch way outside of her box. Instead, her kick lost power as a Colombian player contested for the ball and Catalina Usme scored a stoppage-time goal.