RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A goal from captain Carli Lloyd gave the U.S. women’s soccer team a barely deserved 1-0 win over France on Saturday, while hosts Brazil delivered an impressive 5-1 win over Sweden.
Lloyd was in the right place at the right time to knock the ball into an empty net from close range with 63 minutes gone in Belo Horizonte after Tobin Heath’s shot had come back off the post and left French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi stranded.
U.S. goalie Hope Solo, in her 200th international match, was once again roundly booed by the crowd because of her comments on the Zika virus.
However, the hostility did not seem to affect her performance and she saved well from Marie Laure Delie in the first half and thwarted the same player with 15 minutes remaining to preserve the clean sheet. Captain Wendie Renard was outstanding for France, hitting the bar with a header early in the match, but she could not prevent the United States from making it two wins from two games.
The United States sit top of Group G with six points, ahead of France and New Zealand on three. New Zealand beat Colombia 1-0.
”During the first 20 minutes of the second half, the U.S. put a lot of pressure on us,” said French coach Philippe Bergeroo. “Unfortunately, we had many chances but didn’t score, though our tactics were good.
“Never forget that USA are the world champions, (and) the current Olympic champions. Of course we are disappointed by the result, but we are determined to keep on.”
The United States will be keeping a close eye on Brazil, who hammered the Swedes in Rio and are top of Group E after two straight wins.
Beatriz, Cristiane and Marta got three goals in a brilliant first half for the host nation, with Marta and Beatriz scoring again in the final 10 minutes.
Lotta Schelin got a consolation goal for the Swedes with two minutes remaining.
The other Group E match saw China beat South Africa 2-0 with their second goal coming from a spectacular 40-yard lob. China are in second place on three points.
Also on Saturday, Canada beat Zimbabwe 3-1 to go top of Group F. Janine Beckie got two of Canada’s three goals in a first-half spree before Mavis Chirandu grabbed a consolation goal with four minutes remaining. Germany sit in second place with four points after coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Australia in front of 37,000 fans in Sao Paulo.
Editing by Bill Rigby/Peter Rutherford