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Published: Tuesday, 7/31/2012

France beats Colombia 1-0, reaches quarterfinals of women’s Olympic soccer

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Natalia Gaitan Natalia Gaitan
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NEWCASTLE, England — France scored early in the first half to beat Colombia 1-0 and advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s Olympic football tournament on Tuesday.

Elodie Thomis got the fifth-minute winner after entering the area in front of the Colombian defenders and sending the ball into the near corner as the goalkeeper charged from the net.

A draw would already be enough for the French to move on to the next round at the London Games.

France ended Group G with six points, three less than the United States, which beat North Korea 1-0 in the other match.

Colombia leaves the tournament without a point or a goal. It needed to beat the French by several goals to have any chance of reaching the quarterfinals as one of the two-best third-place teams. The game ends the chance at a medal for Colombia player Natalia Gaitan, a student at the University of Toledo.

RELATED ARTICLE: UT's Gaitan to be an Olympian

France dominated from the start and Colombia goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda needed to make several saves throughout the match to keep the French from getting more goals. Only at the end the Colombians created a few chances. The South Americans also twice were saved by the crossbar in front of about 13,000 fans at the St. James’ Park Stadium.

Thomis opened the scoring in a breakaway after a long pass to her from the backfield. She had time to move into the penalty box and choose the corner to place the ball as Sepulveda left the net to try to block the shot.

Thomis played from the beginning on Tuesday after scoring a goal and setting up two others off the bench in the team’s 5-0 rout of North Korea on Saturday.

In addition to the winner against Colombia, she twice hit the crossbar, first with a long-range shot in the 26th and then with a strike from inside the area in the 33rd.

Colombia lost despite the tournament debut of Yoreli Rincon, touted by many as the “new Marta.” She finally got to play after replacing injured midfielder Catalina Usme in first-half stoppage time.

There had been suggestions back in Colombia of a conflict between the rising star and coach Ricardo Rozo, but the manager said that the 19-year-old forward just wasn’t fully fit to play in the previous two games.

With Colombia struggling to control possession, Rincon wasn’t able to pose much of a threat during the time she was on the field on Tuesday.

The team’s most significant chance came in the 85th when substitute Tatiana Ariza was in front of the net but couldn’t get a shot on goal as the defenders came charging.

Colombia had lost 2-0 to North Korea and 3-0 to two-time defending Olympic champion United States. France had opened with a 4-2 loss to the Americans.



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