USA 1-0 France: Lloyd goal gives Ellis' side a narrow victory

Standout performances from veterans Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd puts the Americans in the knockout stages.

USA 1-0 France: Lloyd goal gives Ellis' side a narrow victory
Phpto: Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring against France. Credit: GUSTAVO ANDRADE/AFP/Getty Images
USA
1 0
France
USA: Solo, O’Hara, Engen, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Long, Brian, Lloyd (c); Dunn, Morgan, Heath.
France: Bouhaddi, Houara, Renard, Mbock, Majri, Henry, Bussaglia, Diani, Abily, Cadamuro, Délie
SCORE: 1-0, Lloyd 63'
REFEREE: Referee: Claudia Umpierrez (URU) Assistant Referee 1: Loreta Toloza(CHI) Assistant Referee 2: Neuza Back (BRA) Fourth Official: Maria Carvajal (CHI)
INCIDENTS: USA – Crystal Dunn (yellow) 68th minute FRA – Griedge Mbock Bathy (yellow) 82

FIFA World Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd's tap-in just after the hour mark was enough to ensure that the USA remained in cruise control of Group G, ahead of their final Rio 2016 group game against Colombia on August 9.

Four years after their 4-2 win against Les Bleus at the London Olympics in 2012, head coach Jill Ellis named a similar lineup to the one that beat New Zealand 2-0 in the first group game in Belo Horizonte. Whitney Engen replaced the injured Julie Johnston, who suffered a groin soreness, while 18-year-old Mallory Pugh missed out due to a knock to the ankle.

Early Chances

The first real chance of the game came in the 18th minute as a France free kick needed the cross bar and Hope Solo's fingertips to be kept out.

At the other end of the pitch, Louisa Cadamuro's foul on Carli Lloyd gave the USA a great chance to take the lead, but they were denied by Sarah Bouhaddi, who tipped over Tobin Heath's free kick. 

Solo was called into action again five minutes before the break, when a through ball from midfielder Amandine Henry found Marie Laure Delie, who's low shot was parried away by the excellent Solo.

Lloyd notches poacher's goal

The moment of the match however, came eighteen minutes after half time. Fullback Kelley O'Hara put a dangerous ball in the box, which found Morgan Brian on the edge. Her ball found Heath, who was making a run on the left.

The USWNT celebrate Carli Lloyd's winner (image via: ussoccer.com)

Heath shot on goal but the effort was initially stopped by Bouhaddi, with the ball ricochetting off the post and finding captain Lloyd, who tapped in her 90th career and 8th Olympic goal into an empty net, a typical poacher's goal.

Americans hold on for the victory

The goal seemed to spark France into life and they spent the rest of the game trying to find the equalising goal. USA's tactic to go on the back foot after taking the lead nearly cost them dearly, as France squandered a good number of chances.

Solo made a terrific save in the 77th minute, and three minutes later Ali Krieger's mistake almost cost her team two points, but Solo stood firm to record her 102th career shutout in her 200th game for the national team, on a night where she was subjected to a barrage of jeers and taunts, mainly due to her comments relating to the Zika virus before the tournament.

In the other group game, Amber Hearn's 31st minute goal was enough to kick start New Zealand's Olympic journey after their loss on the first gameday. As it stands, USA are in pole position, having won both their games. Both France and New Zealand are tied on three points with the former ahead due to superior goal difference, while Colombia remain rock bottom with no wins in two games.

Australia's 2-2 draw with Germany later on meant both Canada and USA have advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition.