Carli Lloyd gives USA win over France in tightly contested Olympic clash
The U.S. women's national soccer team seized control of Group G at the Olympics, edging France 1-0 in a battle of two of the top three teams in the world in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Carli Lloyd scored for a second straight game at the Olympics, touching home a rebound of a Tobin Heath shot that was saved off the post in the 63rd minute, and Hope Solo came up with three important saves to mark the 200th cap of her career. She is the 11th U.S. player to hit that milestone and the first goalkeeper in international play to reach it.
Both the USA and France won their opening games, with the U.S. easing by New Zealand 2-0 and France thrashing Colombia 4-0. With the win, the U.S. controls its destiny heading into Tuesday's final day of group play and thus could avoid a more treacherous path in the knockout stage by winning the group.
For France, the defeat is more frustration against the Americans despite turning in a strong showing and threatening the U.S. goal multiple times. The two sides had last met in March at the SheBelieves Cup, and the USA won 1-0 thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Alex Morgan. The U.S., which improved to 16-0-1 in 2016, is now 17-1-2 all-time against France.
France's Wendie Renard and Marie-Laure Delie had the best chances in the first half, forcing Solo to make two difficult saves. Renard's header off a free kick required Solo to sprawl and tip it over the crossbar in the 16th minute. With halftime approaching, Amandine Henry played Delie through into a 1-v-1 opportunity, but the U.S. goalkeeper came off her line, cut down the angle and stuffed the shot with her legs, not yielding a rebound.
The USA's best chance in the opening 45 came through Heath, who put a 25-yard free kick on target but had it tipped over by goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Referees missed the deflection by the France keeper and awarded a goal kick instead of a corner.
Lloyd put the USA ahead just after the hour mark, after Heath's shot from the left was put off the post by Bouhaddi. It ricocheted right to Lloyd on the doorstep, and the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year didn't miss from point-blank range.
Solo was called into action again in the 78th minute, with Delie putting a header on target, but the goalkeeper parried it away to safety.
The U.S. was forced into making two changes to its starting lineup, with Crystal Dunn and Whitney Engen replacing Mallory Pugh (ankle) and Julie Johnston (groin), who were each nursing minor knocks suffered in the opening match.
The Americans close group play against Colombia on Tuesday, while France faces New Zealand.