The United States and Japan, the favourites for women’s footy gold, both made winning starts on Wednesday as hosts Great Britain also enjoyed a victory in the first fixture of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Japan, bidding to add the Olympic title to the World Cup they won by beating the USA on penalties in the final in Germany last year, defeated Canada 2-1 in Coventry, central England but the Americans had to come from 2-0 down to beat France 4-2 at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Scotland’s national stadium.In Coventry, Nahomi Kawasumi gave Japan a 33rd minute lead after finishing a slick passing move with a powerful shot from an acute angle.
Then a blunder by Canada keeper Erin McLeod, who failed to collect a cross, allowed Japan captain Aya Miyama to head in to an unguarded net as the ‘Nadeshiko’ doubled their lead before half-time.Canada pulled a aim back through Melissa Tancredi early in the second half but could not force an equalizer in this Group F clash.
At Hampden, reigning Olympic champions the United States found themselves 2-0 down inside 15 minutes, Gaetane Thiney firing Les Bleus ahead with a long-range work that left USA keeper Hope Solo groping at narrow air.Moments later Marie-Laure Delie made it 2-0, capitalising on hesitant USA defending before bludgeoning in from eight yards.
But the greater physicality of the United States, bidding for their fourth Olympic title in attempts since 1996, began to tell and veteran striker Abby Wambach got them back in to the game when he powered in a far-post header from a corner.
Alex Morgan then latched onto a Solo clearance to level at 2-2 and in the second half it was one-way traffic with Carli Lloyd lashing in a shot from distance to make it 3-2 before Morgan added her second to make the points safe.
Great Britain, playing their first ever Olympic women’s footy match, got their London Games off to a winning start in Wales on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand.