FIFA Women's World Cup
Colombia makes first-ever quarterfinal behind Catalina Usme and Linda Caicedo
FIFA Women's World Cup

Colombia makes first-ever quarterfinal behind Catalina Usme and Linda Caicedo

Updated Aug. 8, 2023 7:43 a.m. ET

MELBOURNE, Australia – Every World Cup needs a Cinderella story. This one is full of them.

With soccer giants like the United States, Brazil, Germany and Canada already knocked out of this tournament, it's up to the underdogs to make some history.

And that's what Colombia did at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Tuesday night when it beat Jamaica, 1-0, in the round of 16 to advance to this side's first-ever World Cup quarterfinal.

[Colombia vs. Jamaica live highlights: Colombia wins 1-0 to advance]


"When we qualified for the World Cup, the first thing I said to my team was we are not here just to spend time [at the World Cup]," Colombia coach Nelson Abadia said via interpreter. "We want to make history. It’s better to make history than tell history. This is something very special for us. This is national pride."

In the 51st minute, Ana Guzman, who earned the start with teammate Manuela Vanegas out due to yellow card accumulation, made a perfect cross just over the top of Jamaica's defense. Captain Catalina Usme was waiting at the back door and had just enough time to control the ball and finish it in the back of the net to give Las Cafeteras an edge right after halftime.

It took approximately 320 minutes – and three-and-a-half games – but this was the first goal Jamaica conceded this tournament. An impressive feat given its opponents have been the likes of France and Brazil.

The Colombia-dominated crowd somehow reached another octave in the moment, and then grew even louder not five minutes later when 18-year-old sensation Linda Caicedo got her first true scoring chance of the match. Caicedo is one of the most inspirational stories of this World Cup. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 15 years old, she didn't know if she'd ever play soccer again. Now she's one of the sport's brightest young stars.

"What Linda is doing for me and also every Colombian player, she's our reference, she's a symbol," Guzman told reporters earlier this week. "She's a player that has proven that dreams can be achieved, and you have to work for that."

Colombia failed to qualify for the World Cup four years ago, and now it's going to the quarterfinal for the first time. The squad's previous best showing here was in the 2015 tournament when it lost to the U.S. women's national team in the round of 16.

What's more, the No. 25 Las Cafeteras are now the lowest-ranked team to make it this far in Women's World Cup history.

The reward? A date with England in Sydney on Saturday (6:30 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

"I can say the gaps have been closing and Colombia has proven to be a good side," Abadia said. "We’ve been going step by step, materializing what we wanted to do based on the talent our players have. England is one of the favorites, that goes without saying. They are the European champions. But we also faced [and beat] Germany and they were the second-best team in the world. But we were wise and our players had composure and they will face England with composure. It won’t be an easy game. It will be a tough game for sure."

The World Cup crew reacts to Colombia's historic victory over Jamaica in the round of 16

And the Lionesses will have their hands full. While it took a full half for Colombia to get into a rhythm, once it started connecting passes and maintaining possession and finding Caicedo, things revved up. As did the team's fiery fans.

Caicedo had chances. In the 65th minute, she was in perfect position just inside the box but booted her shot a foot over the net. Later, she streaked up the field, dicing up Jamaica's back line and forced a corner kick. She's only scored two goals so far in her first World Cup, but it's clear she's feeling fit (there were concerns she wasn't heading into this match) and ready for more.

"Linda is crucial player and will always be a crucial player because of everything she does for her teammates," Abadia said.

After making its own history by reaching the round of 16 for the first time, Jamaica's run has come to an end. The Reggae Girlz, who needed a GoFundMe campaign to afford to travel Down Under, lost every game four years ago and in just their second World Cup appearance, made it to the knockout round.

[Can England's resilient women's team reverse years of national heartache?]

Khadija "Bunny" Shaw, a fierce attacker for Manchester City, leaves Australia without scoring once. In fact, Jamaica only scored one goal through four games, a 1-0 win over Panama in its second match. It came close to equalizing, the best opportunity coming from a Drew Spence header in the 82nd minute, but that just went wide.

Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez would have none of it, anyway, making dramatic save after dramatic save to preserve the monumental victory in the waning moments.

So now, Colombia will celebrate. Its impressive contingent of rowdy fans have traveled thousands of miles to be here and will their squad into this moment.

Now, an even bigger test looms.

Colombia vs. Jamaica Highlights | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup | Round of 16

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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