Alex Morgan scored twice as the U.S. came back from two goals down to beat France 4-2 in its Olympic women’s soccer tournament opener. World champion Japan, Britain, Brazil and Sweden also won.
North Korea delayed the start of its match against Colombia for more than an hour because of a dispute over its flag. The North Koreans went on to win 2-0 on a goal in each half by Song-Hui Kim.
Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie scored within two minutes of each other to put France ahead in the first 15 minutes at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The U.S. drew even by halftime on goals from Abby Wambach and Morgan.
Carli Lloyd put the Americans ahead in the 56th minute and a second goal from Morgan 10 minutes later sealed the match.
“Somehow we always like to make things a little dramatic,” Wambach told reporters. “The truth is, we really believe in ourselves. There’s nothing that’s going to stop us. Two goals, people getting injured, there’s one thing that we have on our mind and it’s gold.”
The Americans qualified for the Olympics without allowing a goal in the regional tournament. Their only loss this year came against Japan, which defeated the U.S. 1-0 at the Algarve Cup in March.
Japan, the Women’s World Cup champion, held on to defeat Canada 2-1 and host Britain beat New Zealand 1-0. Brazil routed Cameroon 5-0. Sweden eased past South Africa 4-1 in Group F.
Japan took the lead in the first half in Coventry in the early Group F match on a Nahomi Kawasumi goal set up by Shinobu Ohno. Aya Miyama made it 2-0 by heading into an unguarded net.
Canada got a 55th-minute goal from Melissa Tancredi.
“This was the stage where I dreamt of appearing for a long time, so I was very happy to be here,” Kawasumi told reporters. “I was not nervous and I was able to enjoy the game.”
Sweden is on top of its group after the defeat of South Africa. Nilla Fischer scored in the seventh minute and then Lisa Dahlkvist and Lotta Schelin scored in the 20th and 21st minute for the Swedes, who finished third in the last Women’s World Cup. Portia Modise scored for South Africa on the hour mark, but Schelin responded three minutes later to close the scoring in Coventry.
Marta, voted FIFA’s female player of the year six times in a row, scored twice as Brazil defeated Cameroon in Group E. She scored in the 73rd and 88th minutes after Francielle scored in the seventh minute and Renata Costa three minutes later to give Brazil control of the match in Cardiff. Cristiane scored in the 79th minute.
North Korea refused to start play at Hampden Park after its lineup was displayed on the scoreboard along with a picture of the South Korean flag.
Play began at 8:50 p.m., 65 minutes later than the scheduled kick off. Games organizers apologized for the mistake and said that steps will be taken to avoid a repeat.
“Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved perfectly,” North Korea coach Gun Sin Ui told reporters. “Although we won the game, we hope this will not happen again in the next matches.”
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the incident shouldn’t be exaggerated.
“This was an honest mistake, honestly made, an apology has been made and I’m sure every step will be taken to make sure these things don’t happen again,” Cameron said today at the Olympic Park in east London. “We shouldn’t overinflate this episode, it was unfortunate, it shouldn’t have happened and I think we can leave it at that.”
The U.S. plays Colombia July 28 in Glasgow and faces North Korea three days later in its final Group G game, at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.
Britain, which is making its Olympic debut in women’s soccer, couldn’t score until the second half in Cardiff against New Zealand. Stephanie Houghton got the only goal with a shot that curled into the bottom left corner in a Group E match.
“Hopefully we’ll get more confidence after this,” British forward Karen Carney told the Olympic News Service. “We had a nervy start, but we built on it and we’re glad we got the win.”
The London Games officially open tomorrow, although the women’s and men’s soccer tournaments start earlier. The men’s event begins today.