OTTAWA: France and England both advanced to the last 16 of the Women s World Cup with wins on Wednesday as Colombia backed in as one of the best third-placed finishers.
Third-ranked France bounced back from a shock defeat to Colombia by whipping Mexico 5-0 in Ottawa to finish top of Group F with six points.
England, also on six points, but behind France on goal difference, beat Colombia 2-1 in Montreal and advance second from the group.
The 28th-ranked South Americans also advance past the group stage for the first time with four points from three games. Mexico, ranked 15th, are on their way home with one point.
“We made things difficult for ourselves by losing against Colombia,” admitted France coach Philippe Bergeroo of their 2-0 defeat which was one of the biggest upsets in the tournament s 24-year history.
“A loss today would have sent us home. We ve achieved our first objective, we can breath a bit easier now.”
France are bidding for their first title after finishing fourth in Germany in 2011 and also at the 2012 Olympics.
France s Marie Laure Delie scored after just 34 seconds in an early goal blitz that saw Eugenie Le Sommer net a double and an own goal by Mexican defender Jennifer Ruiz.
With ten minutes to go, Amandine Henry scored a spectacular goal from 25 yards out.
“We were favourites but I ve enough experience to know that things can go terribly wrong in football,” said Bergeroo.
“We ve a lot of humility because France have never won anything. We ve simply closed the gap on the best.”
Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar s side go home for the third time after the group stage, with a point following their opening draw against Colombia.
“There was a lot of pressure on this young team who had to deal with great expectations in our country,” he said.
“Conceding a goal after 30 seconds complicated things. France are a great team but we were far from what we had hoped for.”
France next meet South Korea, who beat Spain 2-1 to finish second in Group E behind Brazil, in Montreal on Sunday.
Colombia fight on
England, meanwhile, set up a meeting with 1995 champions Norway in Ottawa on Monday.
Goals from Karen Carney (15) and a Fara Williams (38) penalty kick, put England ahead before Lady Andrade snatched one back four minutes into injury time.
“We lacked the right attitude in the first half,” lamented Colombia coach Fabian Taborda.
“The players were overawed by the beautiful stadium, the fans .. and were playing individually. Their second goal was like a gift from us.
“We lost the match but we live to fight on.”
England have now advanced past the group stage for the fourth time after 1995, 2007 and 2011.
“It s mission accomplished,” said coach Mark Sampson. We ve showed we are an adaptable English side with a winning mentality.”
“We feel we re building a real sense of momentum. We re going to face a really good Norwegian side who have drawn with the best team in the tournament Germany.”
England lost their opening match to France 1-0 but bounced back with a 2-1 win over Mexico.