The United States Women's National Team weathered early and late assaults by France to claim a 1-0 victory in the second Olympic group stage match, with captain Carli Lloyd bagging the winner in the second half.
While both teams came into the match tied atop the group with three points, the French knew a draw would keep them ahead of the U.S. on goal difference. But France still came out looking for all three points, and could very well have taken the lead early on in the match.
With U.S. defensive stalwart Julie Johnston held out of the lineup with some groin soreness, the center back pairing of Becky Sauerbrunn and Whitney Engen were tested early and often by French captain Wendie Renard. The towering French defender had the best chance of the night for France in the 16th minute when, off a corner, Renard's header was denied only by the fingertips of Hope Solo.
On the ensuing corner, Solo failed to reach the ball with a punch and the U.S. had to scramble to clear the ball out harm's way. But France continued to come forward, and just minutes later Solo was called into action again to make another big save.
Solo smothers it. pic.twitter.com/0ejJ7Nrz0B— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) August 6, 2016
Eventually the U.S. settled into the match and the Americans managed to get a few decent looks at goal themselves. The best chance came off a free kick in the 29th minute, when Tobin Heath's shot had to be tipped over the bar. Unfortunately for Heath, the referee only awarded a goal kick to France and both teams went into the break tied at zero.
The opening of the second half saw the U.S. begin to take control of the tempo and eventually the Yanks had their lead. A nice passing move by the U.S. found the ball at the feet of Heath, who was in on goal but from a tight angle. Heath fired a low shot that clanged off the near post and fell right to the feet of Lloyd, who put the game winner away from point blank range into a wide open goal in the 63rd minute.
Lloyd has now scored in both of the Americans' first two games and has the winners in both as well. Solo, meanwhile, has not yet allowed a goal in the tournament through two matches. She made some huge saves in this one, unlike in the opener against New Zealand, during which she was rarely tested.
France would not go down quietly however, and the final 10 minutes saw wave after wave of French attacks with Renard once again being the main threat on set pieces.
The U.S. eventually moved to a 5-4-1 formation and held on as the final whistle blew to secure the three points and is now in prime position to win Group G. The Yanks close out the group stage against Colombia in Manaus on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Canada 3, Zimbabwe 1
Canada earned another three points with a 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe. The Orlando Pride's own Josee Belanger made her Olympic debut for the Canadians and marked the accomplishment with an 80th minute yellow card. Janine Beckie scored twice and Christine Sinclair was on target again from the penalty spot for Canada. The Canadians will meet Germany at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday to close out the group.
Australia 2, Germany 2
Orlando Pride defenders Laura Alleway and Steph Catley suffered heartbreak against the Germans. The Matildas led 2-0 at one point, and 2-1 through most of the second half, but Germany found an equalizer off a set piece with just a few minutes left in regular time to pull level and steal two points away from the Aussies. The Aussies had numerous opportunities to put the game away when it was 2-1, but were unable to finish. Germany took advantage of Australia's missed opportunities, when captain Saskia Bartusiak bundled in a cross in the 88th minute to earn her country the draw, which incidentally pushes both Canada and the United States into the quarterfinal round.