MONTREAL (Reuters) - England punished some poor defending by Colombia to secure a fairly comfortable 2-1 win in their women’s World Cup Group F game in Montreal on Wednesday and set up a clash with Norway in the next round.
England finished in second place on six points, behind France on goal difference. Colombia have four points and could still qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams.
England, ranked sixth in the world, took the lead in the 15th minute when Colombian goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda fumbled a free kick and midfielder Karen Carney drilled the ball home from a tight angle.
Colombia’s inability to deal with set pieces hurt them again later in the first half when Carolina Arias handled in the box after a free kick. Fara Williams easily scored from the penalty spot in the 38th minute.
England, who looked out of sorts when they lost 1-0 to France in the opening game, are an impressive blend of physical strength and speed, and advance as a genuine contender.
They will play an imposing and experienced Norwegian side in Ottawa on June 22.
“We have a lot of weapons we can use to potentially hurt the Norwegian team ... we feel we are building a real sense of momentum emotionally and on the field,” said England coach Mark Sampson.
Less than 14,000 people turned up to watch the game in Montreal’s Olympic stadium, where attendance has largely been disappointing. Colombian supporters outnumbered their English counterparts by about 10 to one but had little to cheer about in the opening 45 minutes.
The South Americans adopted a more attacking stance in the second half but only managed to find a goal in the last minute of stoppage time when Lady Andrade lobbed the ball over keeper Karen Bardsley.
Colombia coach Fabian Taborda said his team had been overawed in the first half.
“(It) was not a good half for us because we couldn’t handle the situation ... there was some fear and we missed a lot of opportunities,” he said.
England have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup three times, most recently in 2007 and 2011. Colombia have only qualified for the tournament once, in 2011, when they failed to make it out of the group stage.
Reporting by David Ljunggren. Editing by Andrew Both and Larry Fine