Colombia edges Jamaica to reach Women’s World Cup quarterfinal
Nelson Abadia said his Colombia team was “playing for all the Americas” after a 1-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday set up a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal clash with European champions England.
Colombia failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup but topped their group in Australia — stunning Germany along the way — and are now into the last eight for the first time.
In front of a raucous crowd in Melbourne, the 25th-ranked South Americans ground down a resolute and physical Jamaica side who had not conceded a goal all tournament.
Colombia’s intense, attacking ethos under Abadia finally paid dividends in the 51st minute when captain Catalina Usme got the breakthrough with a composed finish inside the box to unlock a previously impenetrable defense.
It set a cagey game alight and sent the pumping pro-Colombian crowd into deafening delirium.
Colombia will now play England in Sydney on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals.
“Our defense were brilliant, they have been evolving over the games, and of course we also had brilliant attackers,” said the coach Abadia.
“We analyzed how this game would be and thank God we had a good performance.”
With all other teams from North and South America now out, Abadia added: “There is immense pride.
“Home pride and a regional pride because we know we are worthy representatives of not just Colombia, but South America.
“Now we are playing for all of the Americas because our national team is representing the whole continent.”
Having crashed out of the 2019 tournament with three heavy defeats, 43rd-ranked Jamaica, like Colombia, came to Australia with few expecting them to get this far.
And despite defeat they will leave with their heads held high after a historic first World Cup victory — a 1-0 win over Panama — and goalless draws against France and Brazil.
Jamaica’s run to the last 16 came against a backdrop of rows with their federation over a lack of support and resources. The team had also complained about lack of warm-up games.
“I give credit to Colombia, they were better than us tonight,” said Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson.
“But coming in (to the tournament) with no games I feel very happy for the players that they could perform at this level.
“They gave everything tonight. They should be proud of themselves and I’m proud of them.”
Jamaica’s Manchester City striker Khadija Shaw, who was too often starved of service, added: “If you believe and you work hard, anything is possible and we came out here tonight and held our own.”
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.
There were few chances 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.
Colombia began to find some rhythm, 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.
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.
Colombia then broke 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 in search of an equalizer.
Spence almost grabbed it with a header that spun just wide.
But 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.