Edmonton, AB (SportsNetwork.com) – Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd scored second- half goals on Monday as the United States advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup with a gritty 2-0 victory over 10-player Colombia at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Americans are coming off a good showing in the group stage as they won the group and conceded only one goal in three games. The defense has been stellar throughout the tournament, but the offense needed to be better.
U.S. head coach Jill Eills stuck with the same starting 11 that played against Nigeria in the final group game, but switched the tactics a bit by having midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath play on different sides of the field.
Colombia came into the match riding some confidence as well, having scored a huge upset win over France in the group stage. The South Amerlatesticans hung with the U.S. early in the game and remained committed to trapping the American midfielders out wide hoping to create counter-attacking opportunities.
But it was the U.S. that had the better of the early chances as Abby Wambach ripped one on frame with pace in the 12th minute that forced Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez into a good save.
The Americans created another good chance just prior to the half-hour mark as Heath fought off two defenders to send a looping cross into the box. Morgan got good position and nodded it on frame, but Perez was there to parry it over the crossbar.
Colombia answered with a pair of chances on free kicks in the latter stages of the first half, but the service was poor on both set pieces as the clubs went into the break scoreless.
Through the first three games of the tournament, the Americans have showed a knack for raising their level of play in the second half and Monday was no exception as Morgan got in behind the Colombia defense two minutes into the second half.
Perez came out to challenge for the ball and caught Morgan’s ankles, resulting in a penalty kick and a straight red card to Perez for the denial of a goal- scoring opportunity.
Stefany Castano replaced Perez in goal and Wambach stepped to the spot with a chance to set the record for most goals scored in a women’s World Cup and give the U.S. the lead, but she fired it just wide of the left post.
The missed penalty kick gave some momentum to Colombia, but the Americans shook off the miss and opened the scoring in the 53rd minute as Morgan got into the box on the right side and sent a looping ball across the face of goal that took a deflection and wound up in the bottom left corner.
The U.S. was awarded a second penalty kick in the 65th minute when Rapinoe ran onto a loose ball and was hacked down in the box by Colombia midfielder Angela Clavijo.
Lloyd stepped up this time and made no mistake, blasting it down the middle to double the advantage.
Despite playing with 10, Colombia continued to push forward looking to at least score one goal, but the U.S. defense remained stout and claimed its third clean sheet in four games.
The Americans will face China in the quarterfinal round on Friday in Ottawa, where Ellis will have some difficult lineup choices to make as Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.