France's Camille Abily, left, attempts to stop a shot by Tobin Heath… (Chris Clark / Associated…)
GLASGOW, Scotland -- The U.S. has reached the final of every Olympic women's soccer tournament. But now it appears that the rest of the world is catching up to the Americans, who had to rally from two goals down to tie France, 2-2, after the first half of their opening match Wednesday at Hampden Park.
The 12-team field in this summer’s Olympic Games is the deepest ever, featuring eight of the top nine teams in the latest FIFA rankings. One of those is No. 6 France, which hasn't lost since last summer’s World Cup, a span of 17 matches. And it was France that quickly opened a 2-0 lead Wednesday on goals by Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie.
Thiney got the first one, in the 12th minute, on a right-footed shot from well outside the area.
The sequence started with a long ball from the French end that U.S. defender Amy Le Peilbet headed away from her goal. But the ball bounced right to Thiney, whose shot deflected off the hand of keeper Hope Solo’s hands and into the top right-hand corner of the net.
A patient Delie doubled the advance for France two minutes later after the U.S. did a horrible job of clearing a loose ball from the edge of the 18-yard box. The ball was touched by at least three U.S. players -- including Le Peilbet and Megan Rapinoe, who got a foot on the ball twice --– before Delie blasted another shot off Solo's hands and into the goal.
That advantage lasted less than five minutes, though, before Abby Wambach headed home a long corner kick from Rapinoe, ending a string of seven consecutive shutouts for France.
In the 33rd minute, Alex Morgan took advantage of a momentous breakdown by the French defense to tie the match. A long goal kick by Solo eluded Wambach's attempt at a header and bounced untouched toward the goal, allowing Morgan to narrowly beat French keeper Sarah Bouhaddi to the ball and volley a soft left-footer over Bouhaddi's shoulder.
That marked the first time this year France has allowed two goals in a match -- much less in a half.
The U.S. seemed to have little answer to the speed of Delie, who nearly put France ahead again just before the intermission, first when she missed high on a right-footed shot from about 15 yards and later when a header toward the left post was snatched out of the air by Solo.
The U.S. got a scare early in the half when Morgan, the team’s leading scorer, was knocked to the turf by French captain Ophelie Meilleroux. Morgan lay on the turf for a couple of minutes before bounding up and remaining in the game.
Not so fortunate was midfielder Shannon Boxx. She went down in the 16th minute and came out of the game in favor of Carli Lloyd.
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