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London 2012 Olympics

France eliminates Colombia, sets up meeting with Sweden

Great Britain-Brazil wasn’t the only game decided by an early goal. France moved into the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Colombia in St. James’ Park. Elodie Thomas was the only member of Les Bleues to find the back of the net, despite her teammates’ numerous attempts to batter one past Colombia’s Sandra Sepulveda. Colombia exited the Olympic Tournament not only without a win but also without a goal.

It didn’t take long for France to take control of the first half, with Thomas slotting a ball through to Gaetane Thiney, who was unable to capitalize in front of the net. It only took until the fifth minute for Thomas to have her own chance on goal thanks to a ball sent in by Louisa Necib. Thomas blasted one from short range to the near side of Sepulveda, who had no time to react.

Sepulveda was easily the woman of the match for Colombia, withstanding 19 of the 20 shots on goal and battling through numerous physical issues. Colombia also improved their play in the second half after being completely dominated by France for the first 45 minutes.

In the end, France was lucky to escape with the win when a defensive miscue allowed Natalia Ariza a touch on the ball right in front of the French goal. The near miss could have provided a shocking equalizer against Bruno Bini’s side, who clearly expected few challenges from Colombia.

France’s next challenge in their quest for a medal will be Sweden, which could prove to be a very tight game. Both European teams are on a quest to prove that they are true gold medal contenders, and both had solid group stages. Neither team had the drive of the United States or the quiet competency of Great Britain, but this next game for both should prove to be one of the most evenly matched and entertaining of Friday’s quarterfinals stage.

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