July 25, 2012
By Michael Lewis
US Women rally from two goals down to defeat France
GLASGOW -- Nice comeback.
|Carli Lloyd’s 56th-minute goal sealed Wednesday’s Olympic-opening won over France for the US Women.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Faced with a two-goal deficit after a nightmare start, the United States showed its resiliency, to register a 4-2 victory over France in the opening women's Olympic match for both teams at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored the game-winner in the 2008 gold-medal match, broke a 2-2 tie in the 56th minute of the Group G match to boost the Americans in the first game of the doubleheader.
Alex Morgan, who had a goal in each half, added an insurance tally in the 66th minute. Abby Wambach also found the back of the net for the U.S.
The U.S. needed to win this match because it needed to avoid finishing second in the group. A runner-up finish probably would ensure a quarterfinal match with defending Women's World Cup champion Japan, a meeting no team would want that early in the knockout rounds.
The Americans take on Colombia here on Saturday, while France plays North Korea.
The U.S. endured a horrendous start, finding itself in a two-goal hole 14 minutes into the match.
One French goal came off a spectacular shot by by Gaelane Thiney, only 10 seconds after Morgan returned to the field after being taken off due to an injury.
A long ball led to the first goal. An American player tried to head it out, but the ball came back to Thiney, who launched a 22-yard line drive that goalkeeper Hope Solo managed to get a hand on, but could not keep out of the upper right corner for a 1-0 lead.
Only two minutes later, France was celebrating again thanks to the U.S.'s inability to clear a corner kick. The Americans got at least three touches on the ball inside the penalty area, including by Amy Le Peilbet and Megan Rapinoe, but could not push the ball out of harm's way. Marie-Laure Delie got hold of the ball between two defenders and slotted it into the net for an astonishing 2-0 advantage.
Stunned, but quick to recover, the U.S. needed only four minutes to respond and slice the margin in half off a corner kick of its own. Rapinoe served the ball into the far right side of the penalty area, where Abby Wambach headed it past keeper Sarah Bounaddi in the 18th minute. It was Wambach's 139th international goal.
Morgan equalized in the 32nd minute, taking a long ball and beating French captain and defender Ophelie Meilleroux with a left-footed shot from eight yards for a 2-2 deadlock.
When the French applied pressure, the U.S. backlike looked shaky at times, allowing Delie to get a couple of good looks on goal later in the half. In the 39th minute, she forced Solo to save her 12-yard header.
The Americans thought they had a penalty kick in the 44th minute, when Morgan was knocked down from behind in the box by Meilleroux, who looked like she got the ball as well.
At halftme, French coach Bruno Bini made two substituions, replacing Meilleroux with Laura Georges, and midfielder Louisa Necib with Eugenie le Sommer.
The start of the second half did not have the same energy as the first half, although French midfielder Elise Bussaglia cleared a shot by Wambach off the line in the 50th minute to preserve the tie.
Lloyd completed a stunning comeback for the Americans, scoring in the 56th minute. Rapinoe took advantage of a slip by defender Sonia Bompastor on the right flank and found plenty of room to penetrate. She crossed the ball into the middle and Lloyd fired away from 22 yards into the right corner for a 3-2 USA lead.
Morgan gave the Americans some much-needed breathing room in the 66th minute, taking advantage of yet another French slip-up. This time midfielder Tobin Heath raced in alone on the left side after her marker slipped to the ground. She sent a low feed across the goalmouth that Morgan, standing at the far post, had an easy tap-in with Bouhaddi sprawled on the grass trying to intercept the pass.