USA are into the FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals but only after surviving a tough encounter from Colombia in an action-packed 2-0 win in Edmonton.
In the end the outcome was expected but perhaps the closeness of the contest was more surprising for many, with Colombia attacking their opponents whenever possible and only falling behind following the dismissal of goalkeeper Catalina Perez early in the second half.
Abby Wambach missed the ensuing penalty before second-half strikes delivered by Alex Morgan and then Carli Lloyd from the penalty spot put the Americans in control.
It was, however, a costly win for the Stars and Stripes with key midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday set to miss the upcoming contest against China PR after collecting yellow cards.
Wambach thought she had the opening goal inside the opening minutes but she was correctly ruled offside after putting away a goalkeeper rebound from an otherwise impressive stop by Perez on her Women’s World Cup debut.
Wambach tested Perez who did well to block a well-hit volley, before further openings for Julie Johnston, who blazed over the crossbar, and a corner bundled into the side-netting by a posse of USA attackers.
Perez was again forced to display quick reflexes to tip Morgan’s downward header over the crossbar, but Colombia created several half-openings of their own even if USA keeper Hope Solo was rarely tested.
The real action came immediately after the break with Perez sent off for fouling Morgan who was through on goal. However, Wambach spurned an opportunity to join Marta as the Women’s World Cup’s leading goal scorer by pushing the spot-kick wide. The dismissal meant third-keeper Stefany Castano came on with first-choice Sandra Sepulveda already suspended.
The breakthrough finally came eight minutes after the break when Morgan received a pass in the penalty area and drilled her shot inside the near post from an acute angle through the hands of the fresh goalkeeper.
Thirteen minutes later USA doubled their lead through Lloyd’s successful penalty after Rapinoe was brought down by Angelo Clavijo as she burst into the penalty area.