SINSHEIM, Germany (AP) — The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup by routing Colombia 3-0 with goals from Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd on Saturday.
The two-time World Cup champions advanced to the last eight with Sweden, which beat North Korea 1-0 in the early Group C match.
The U.S. and Sweden, one of two teams to beat the Americans this year, meet on Wednesday in Wolfsburg to determine the group winner.
“I’m just really proud of this team,” O’Reilly said. “I think we did some great stuff today.”
St. Louis, Mo. native Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather Mitts, the wife of St. Louis Rams quarterback A.J. Feeley, both dressed for the U.S. team but did not get into the game.
Colombia is a team on the rise, finishing fourth at the Under-20 World Cup last year. But the youngsters were no match for the more experienced Americans. The U.S. harassed goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda relentlessly, and she didn’t get much help from her defenders, who were shredded by the speedy O’Reilly time and again — and set up O’Reilly’s goal in the 12th minute.
Colombia was trying to clear a botched goal kick, but it bounced off Liana Salazar and fell to O’Reilly. She took a few steps and then blasted a right-footed shot from 25 meters (yards) that Sepulveda had no chance to stop. It was O’Reilly’s third World Cup goal, and 30th overall.
“Pia’s always saying, ‘If you have space in front of you, just take it,’” O’Reilly said. “I took a couple of touches and just let it fly.”
The sellout crowd of 25,475, made up mostly of U.S. fans, erupted in cheers, and the players lined up to give a salute to American military members. There is a U.S. Army base in nearby Mannheim, and about 350 service members and their families turned out to watch the team practice on Thursday.
The Americans could have had another four or five goals just in the first half alone. But, just as they have much of the year, they struggled to finish.
“It still was OK because we were creating chances,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said.
The U.S. quickly put the game out of reach in the second half, with Rapinoe scoring in the 50th and Lloyd in the 57th.
Rapinoe, who replaced Amy Rodriguez at halftime, took a throw-in for the U.S. that Cheney collected. She dished off to Rapinoe, who made a thunderous shot from just inside the penalty box. Sepulveda managed to get a hand on Lloyd’s shot from point-blank range, but couldn’t stop it.
Colombia’s best chance came in the 54th off substitute Orianica Velasquez, whose shot had to be punched away by Hope Solo.
Copyright Associated Press