|The US team perform a special army-styled celebration for the US military among the crowd [EPA]|
The United States made the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup on Saturday with a 3-0 thrashing of Colombia in their second Group C match.
Goals from Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd ensured the two-time winners remained unbeaten ahead of their game against Sweden, who also advance with a maximum six points, after earlier beating North Korea 1-0.
Colombia and North Korea crash out of the tournament after losing both their games and will play each other in their final group game on Wednesday with nothing but pride at stake.
“I enjoyed that, even if I have to say I was nervous before the game,” said US coach Pia Sundhage of her side’s first meeting with the South American debutantes.
“But particularly after the second half, people were coming off the bench and they really made the difference.”
“We didn’t finish all our chances but as long as we’re creating chances, I’m happy they will eventually go in and they did in the second half.”
Sandra saves face
World number ones the USA, who beat North Korea 2-0 in their opener, dominated from the outset and their South American rivals could have been further behind at half-time but for some big saves from Sandra Sepulveda.
Sepulveda, 23, did well to keep out an Amy Rodriguez effort after just three minutes.
Striker Abby Wambach almost put the Olympic champions ahead after seven minutes only for Sepulveda to again block the powerful effort, which left her needing ice applied to her hand. Rodriguez tried to fire in the rebound but sent it over.
Three minutes later Rodriguez missed another chance but O’Reilly made no mistake after 12 minutes, slamming past the beleagured Sepulveda with a glorious effort from distance.
“The troops came out to our practice the other day and it was fantastic. Everyone really made it special so we thought it would be nice to salute them”
Player of the match Carli Lloyd
For the goal celebration the entire US team lined up and saluted US military personnel among the sell-out 25,475 crowd who had travelled from bases in nearby Heidelberg in southwestern Germany.
The USA pushed forward again, with Wamback sending a header over on the half hour mark, while Sepulveda again proved solid when faced with a 36th-minute Lauren Cheny shot.
Rapinoe came on as a second-half substitute for the Americans and five minutes later she found the net after a Cheney assist, leaving Sepulveda with no chance.
Seven minutes later Stephanie Cox set up Lloyd for the third.
“Overall there were three fantastic goals and we can now move on and focus on Sweden. We’ve played them a few times and know what to expect,” said Lloyd, who was voted player of the match.
Of the goal celebration, she added: “The troops came out to our practice the other day and it was fantastic. Everyone really made it special so we thought it would be nice to salute them.”