Usme leads Colombia to first Women’s World Cup quarterfinals

MELBOURNE-A second-half goal by Catalina Usme fired Colombia to a 1-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday and carried the South Americans to their first Women’s World Cup quarter-final.
The captain’s 51st-minute strike sent Colombian fans into delirium at a packed Melbourne Rectangular Stadium and ensured the last American team in the tournament will battle England for a place in the last four. “We are representing the whole continent of South America,” Colombia coach Nelson Abadia told reporters. “This (result) has a very special meaning. When we qualified for the World Cup the first thing I said to my team was, ‘We’re not just here to spend time, we want to make history’.”
What had been a testy and physical clash up to halftime exploded into life after Usme’s breakthrough, with both teams attacking furiously in a match-up of two of the tournament’s underdogs. Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Girlz’ had chances to level the match but bowed out swinging in front of a crowd of 27,706, having reached the knockout phase for the first time in their second World Cup.
Four years after Jamaica were eliminated from their group in France with three heavy defeats, coach Lorne Donaldson was proud of the Caribbeans’ progress. His players competed while locked in a pay dispute with their national federation, and had resorted to crowdfunding in the leadup to help cover costs. “I feel very happy for the players that they could perform at this level without adequate games to play (before),” he said. “I just think (Colombia) played a better game. I think technically they were just better than us. “We made some bad mistakes. I give credit to them, they were ready to play.”
Having not conceded a goal all tournament, Jamaica stifled Colombia early, often leaving their players grimacing on the turf after heavy tackles. Colombia wunderkind Linda Caicedo was kept quiet on the left flank, and the South Americans’ first decent scoring chance had to wait until a corner in the 38th minute.
It was wasted, though, with Jorelyn Carabali sending a wild volley from the edge of the area sailing over the bar. Referee Kate Jacewicz lost patience with the Jamaicans’ physicality, handing out two yellow cards in five minutes to defender Chantelle Swaby and midfielder Drew Spence near halftime.
It was Colombia’s new girl Ana Maria Guzman breaking the game open after the break, the 18-year-old full back finding Usme in space on the right with a long cross. Usme showed a deft touch to slip past Jamaica defender Deneisha Blackwood and fire a low, left-foot strike inside the far post.
Jamaica had a golden chance to level three minutes later when Blackwood’s corner picked out Jody Brown in front of goal but the midfielder’s header pinged off the base of the left post. Jamaica pushed forward in desperation as regulation time dwindled but target-woman Khadija Shaw was well-handled by the Colombians. Jamaica’s Drew Spence rose to meet a Tiffany Cameron cross but thumped her header just wide of the left post in the 82nd minute, allowing Colombia to hold firm to the finish.
Meanwhile, Eugenie Le Sommer netted a brace to lead France to a 4-0 victory over debutants Morocco in their last-16 match at the Women’s World Cup, and into the quarterfinals for the third consecutive time.  Kadidiatou Diani’s fourth goal of the tournament, a header in the 15th minute, sparked an eight-minute three-goal Les Bleues blitz, with Kenza Dali and Le Sommer also scoring at Hindmarsh Stadium, ending the North African side’s fairytale run. France next face hosts Australia in the quarter-finals on Saturday in Brisbane.

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