After missing out on the 2019 tournament, Colombia’s women’s team has made remarkable progress. Their remarkable performance in Australia saw them top their group and even achieve a stunning upset against Germany, the second-ranked team in the world.
The 25th-ranked Colombian team showcased their continued prowess at the packed Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. They tactfully wore down the resilient and physically robust Jamaican side, who had not conceded a single goal throughout the tournament.
Colombia’s intense, attacking ethos under coach Nelson Abadia finally paid dividends in the 51st minute when the dangerous Usme got the breakthrough with a composed finish inside the box to unlock a previously impenetrable defence.
It set a cagey game alight and sent the pumping pro-Colombian crowd into deafening delirium, with the Reggae Girlz unable to find a way back.
Colombia will now play England in Sydney on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals after the Lionesses came through a gripping penalty shootout against Nigeria.
Four years after crashing out of the 2019 tournament with three heavy defeats, 43rd-ranked Jamaica, like Colombia, also came to Australia with low expectations.
And despite the crushing defeat, they will leave with their heads held high after clean sheets against France, Panama and Brazil.
In front of riotous fans, who booed whenever Jamaica touched the ball, both sides pressed early in a stop-start opening that saw several players go down under heavy challenges.
The chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes with Colombia’s Diana Ospina having the best — and only — shot on target, but it didn’t have enough power to trouble the keeper.
But the South Americans began to find some rhythm as their supporters urged them on and the opportunities started flowing, with Leicy Santos and Usme both going close.
With Colombia assuming control, Jamaica resorted to some clumsy challenges and Chantelle Swaby and Drew Spence both picked up yellow cards in a tough-tackling half.
The breakthrough came six minutes after the restart with teenage World Cup debutant Ana Guzman pinging a beautiful ball to Usme who took one touch before side-footing home.
Fired up, Jamaica almost had an immediate reply with Jody Brown’s shot cleared off the line in a frantic goalmouth scramble that then saw Colombia break on a counter-attack which nearly led to Real Madrid sensation Linda Caicedo doubling the score.
Behind for the first time at the World Cup and facing the exit door, Jamaica abandoned their defensive posture and threw players forward frantically looking for the equaliser.
Spence almost grabbed it with a header that spun just wide.
But despite giving everything, Colombia hung on to keep their World Cup dream alive and almost scored a second at the death when Santos’s header hit the post.
(With AFP Inputs)