Women’s World Cup: Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd keep USA charging
Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd both scored to put the United States into the World Cup quarter-finals with a hard-fought 2-0 win over 10-woman Colombia on Monday.
The 28th-ranked South Americans were a player down for most of the second half after new goalkeeper Catalina Perez was sent off for a diving tackle on US forward Morgan two minutes after the break.
Abby Wambach stepped up to take the penalty but the superstar striker dramatically sent the ball left of goal, denying her a record-equalling 15th Women’s World Cup goal to match Brazil star Marta.
Morgan finally broke through after 53 minutes with Lloyd getting a second 13 minutes later from a penalty after Megan Rapinoe was fouled inside the box by defender Angela Clavijo.
The USA, ranked second in the world and winners in 1991 and 1999, next meet China in Ottawa on Friday for a place in the semi-finals. The Americans have never failed to reach the Women’s World Cup semi-finals.
It was, however, a costly game for the Olympic champions with key midfielders Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday set to miss the China game after collecting yellow cards.
“We’ve obviously got decisions to make, but we’ve invested significantly in players over the last six months,” said US coach Jill Ellis.
“We’ve dealt with injuries so I feel very confident in the players we have to be able to come on and contribute and I know they will be confident to be able to step up and help us advance.”
It was the first World Cup match for Perez, who was replacing first-choice goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda, sitting out the game after a second yellow card in their 2-1 loss to England.
“If we had not had our goalkeeper sent off, the outcome would have been different,” said Colombia coach Fabian Taborda.
“She’s a great goalkeeper. I think she played well. Unfortunately she was shown a red card. It’s the first time she has gotten one.”
The 20-year-old, who plays for the University of Miami, pulled off three impressive saves in the first half.
Wambach thought she had the opening goal minutes into the game at the Commonwealth Stadium but her rebound off a Perez stop was ruled offside.
Perez also kept out a Wambach volley, and tipped Morgan’s downward header over the crossbar.
At the other end of the pitch, Hope Solo was rarely tested in the US goal as she earned a record 174th cap for the United States, surpassing Briana Scurry’s 173 between 1994 and 2008.
The real action came immediately after the break with Perez sent off for fouling Morgan, who was through on goal.
Stefany Castano stepped into goal with forward Ingrid Vidal coming off, but the Colombians – in the Women’s World Cup for the firwst time – could not reproduce the heroics that saw them shock third-ranked France 2-0 in their group match.
The breakthrough came eight minutes after the break when Morgan received a pass in the penalty area and fired through Castano’s hands. Lloyd’s penalty doubled their advantage.
“It was a huge match for us, a confidence booster as they’re not an easy team to play against,” said Lloyd.
“We were confident the chances would come. We just have to put them away. We haven’t peaked yet. We still have a few more games to go for that.”
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Updated: June 23, 2015 04:00 AM