USA 4 France 2

26 July 2012 01:13
Olympic football comes to Glasgow before the games officially are opened

The city of Glasgow has seen many sporting events but nothing like the Olympics has hit town before. The security circle around Hampden and the team hotels rivals that of the airport and Tel Aviv. However, the sun is shining but the expected 40,000 fans failed to turn up for the first of eight games to take place at Scotland's national stadium. First up are the defending Olympic women's champions, USAand France to be followed by Colombiav Korea DPR. Over 41,000 tickets for the day had been issued with only 6,500 actually exchanging hands for hard cash. That did not diminish the enjoyment of those that did turn up for the first game. The Hampden roar may have been muted but the excitement in everybody at the ground was building as kick-off approached. Three times the Americans have lifted the gold medals since the introduction of women's football to the Olympics in 1996. Would they be able to make a good start to their defence of their title?USA in all blue took up position in the traditional Celtic end of Hampden (which was appropriate as Hope Solo was in all green strip) while France in all white took up the Rangers end, with Sarah Bouhaddi in an all orange strip. The USA made the better start to the game with the first nine minutes spent in the French half. Their only real chance during this period was when  Alex Morgan beat the offside trap on the right and whipped in a cross for the on-rushing Tobin  Heath. However, it proved to be just a bit high and fast for her and the chance was gone. I picked out nine minutes as mark point as on the tenth minute France took the lead as Gaetane Thiney step inside her marker on the 22 metre line and fired in an unstoppable shot past Solo. The USA keeper was soon picking the ball out of the net for a second time just a minute later. Her defence could not clear the ball from a  muddle of legs on the edge of the box and the ball fell to Marie- Laure Delie who stroked the ball into the same corner of Hope's goal as the keeper dived to her left. 12 minutes gone and two down. Not what the Americans wanted. However, all was not lost as Abby Wambach rose at the back of the goal to head home a corner in the 19th minute. As they say here, there and everywhere, game on. The game was being played at a frantic pace with strong challenges going in as you would expect with the prize at stake in mind. It may just be a group game but you would have thought it was the final. The American side were getting the loudest support from the crowd as the game wore on. The fans must have thought they were in for a quiet time when their favourites had gone down by two goals. The game had moved into a midfield struggle with neither side really putting their opponents under any sustained period pressure. On the 32 minute mark the scores were level again as Morgan lobbed the outrushing Bouhaddi after being fed the ball in the penalty box by Wambach on the right. France were not about to take this equaliser lying down and were soon putting the American side under pressure. Delie was a constant threat and nearly beat Solo again when she worked some magic in the penalty area in the 36 minute. A flying header in the 39th minute from the same French player was gladly grabbed by Solo under the bar. Half time 2-2France made two substitutes at half time with Laura Georges replacing Ophelie Meilleroux and Eugine le Sommer taking the place of Louisa Necib. After a period of unexciting play as the teams tried to get back to the pace of the first half, it was ten minutes into the second half when USA finally took the lead. Megan Raponie fed Carly Lloyd from the right who fired in a shot past the despairing right hand of a diving Bouhaddi. On the hour mark there was some concern in the French ranks as the stretcher came on as Wendie Renard was pole-axed to the ground as her head met a flying boot. No danger of Renard going off and a quick check on the sidelines and a splash of water from the magic sponge and she was desperate to get back into the action. The USA were playing a faster game then the French with fast and hard balls fired in from the by-lines without a body making contact. There speed of thought and play paid off in the 66 minute. Heath beat the offside trap on the left and moved in on Bouhaddi before passing the ball to Morgan at the back post who had the simple task of tapping in her second and the fourth USA goal of the day. The French appeared to be running out of steam and ideas as the game moved toward the last quarter of an hour of play. They were still dangerous on the break with Elodie Thomis just not being able to reach a slide-rule pass from Soubeyrand in the 80th minute with Solo stranded on the deck after being drawn out of her goal by the original ball. France had used the tactic of defending in the opponents half in the last ten minutes of the game but their legs were getting weary and opportunities that came their way was a case of the mind was willing but the body let them down. Either the ball was over-hit or the legs just would not move quickly enough. The USA seemed to have got the tactics right for the occasion and the opposition. Stay calm, play our game and the goals will come. It worked for them today. Will the rest of the group learn the lesson and put the Americans under sustained pressure without running out of gas? Only time will tell.USA: Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, Kelley O'Hara, Amy le Peilbet, Shannon Boxx (Carlie Llyod 15mins) , Lauren Cheney, Alex Morgan (Amy Shilling 75 mins), Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe (Syndey Leroux 84 mins), Rachel Buehler, Tobin HeathUnused Subs: Heather Mitts, Becky Sauerbrunn, Heather O'Reilly, Nicole BarnhartFrance: Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Ophelie Meilleroux (Laura Georges 46 mins), Corine Franco, Sonia Bompastor, Camille Abily (Sandrine Soubeyrand 72 mins), Marie-Laure Delie, Elodie Thomis, Louisa Necib (Eugenie le Sommer 46 mins), Elise Bussaglia, Gaetane ThineyUnused Subs: Celine Deville, Laure Boulleau, Camille Catala, Sabrina ViguierAttendance: 18,090