Colombia stun France in first major Women’s World Cup upset

Colombia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Women’s World Cup history Saturday afternoon, riding a first half goal from Lady Andrade, a stoppage time strike from Catalina Usme and, a strong, tough defensive effort to build a 2-0 win over France.

The Colombians also benefitted from some referee decisions that France will say went against them in a Group F match that went completely against expectations.

France came into the game ranked third in the world but found 28th-ranked Colombia poised and well-prepared to gain some revenge for a 1-0 defeat they had suffered against the Tricolors in the London Olympics. It was the first-ever World Cup win for Colombia, which now finds itself atop Group F and poised to advance to the knockout stage.

"My team are very ambitious and they showed that again today against France," Colombia coach Fabian Taborda said after the match. We’ve proved that we’re not just here to make up the numbers."

Andrade’s goal came against the run of play, but the longer the match went the less the result looked to be a fluke. France’s passing game foundered on the Moncton turf and their frustration at failing to build coherent chances grew as the game progressed. If Colombia looked somewhat fortunate to grab the lead, they grew in stature across the 90 minutes, gaining confidence that they could contain the supposedly-potent French attack.

When Catalina Usme broke away alone in stoppage time to net the second goal it was no more than the winners deserved on the balance of the day.

While the French dominated at times they were too often unable to read the fast artificial turf in Moncton, often sending what should have been telling passes beyond the reach of chasing attackers. As a result, the Colombians were able to concentrate on preventing crosses from coming in when France did attack from wide positions and a combination of good defense and goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda’s work kept the South Americans on top.

The only goal had come in the 19th minute when the French, perhaps finding it too easy to go forward, were caught short at the back by Yoreli Rincon’s perfectly-judged pass from the top right channel that sent Andrade in alone to finish what amounted to the only chance of the half for the underdogs.

"They scored against the run of play and things went downhill from there," France boss Philippe Bergeroo said.

France tried to be more direct at the start of the second half but Sepulveda was equal to an Elise Bussaglia shot from the top of box and also was in the right spot to hold a drive from Laura Georges in the first 10 minutes after the break. Eugenie Le Sommer should have done better than to sweep a chance across the face of goal in the 56th minute as the French continued to try to be too precise against a packed group of defenders.

"We weren’t accurate enough with our passes at key moments. Despite that, we still created chances, but their goalkeeper had a great match," Bergeroo noted.

The Colombians were also doing enough attacking to change the shape of the match, too, no longer allowing France to knock the ball around midfield without having to deal with much pressure.

The controversy came midway through the second half and focused squarely on referee Qin Liang.

First, France was denied a clear penalty when Daniela Montoya blatantly handled in the box in the 66th minute, a sweep of the hand that the referee and her assistnat completely missed. There was further question  a minute later when Sepulveda slid to the top of her penalty area and received only a yellow card for handling as she wound up outside the box after snuffing out an attack. In other circumstances that decision might well have been red.

It wasn’t, Sepulveda stayed on the field and Colombia played out the final minutes with confidence although a stoppage-time deflection that denied Claire Lavogez a clear chance to equalize was down to good fortune and positioning. Usme then scored at the other end to finish matters.

Now Colombia will face England while France meets Mexico when group play concludes on Wednesday with the section wide open.

Quotes via FIFA.com