Glasgow, Scotland – There were no surprises as the women's Olympic soccer tournament kicked off on Wednesday night, although North Korea forced the delay of its kickoff for an hour because the wrong flags were used on the scoreboard.
The United States, Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, Sweden and North Korea recorded wins, while the Local Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games registered an apology with the North Koreans for using South Korean flags instead of ones from the north of that divided country.
A quick round-up of the games:
United States 4, France 2
Two-time defending champion United States got off on the wrong foot, but ended up on the right foot as it began its defense of its gold medals at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland on Wednesday night.
The Americans rallied from an early two-goal deficit to register a 4-2 Group G win over highly regarded France in the opener for both teams.
Forward Alex Morgan scored two goals -- one in each half -- and veteran striker Abby Wambach added her 139th international career goal. First-half sub Carli Lloyd, who connected for the game-winner for the Americans in the 2008 gold medal match at the Beijing Summer Games, tallied the deciding goal in the 56th minute.
"We're the best team in the world," Lloyd said. "If anyone can come back from a two-goal deficit it's us."
Added U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo: "It was incredible. We were ice. We were ice cold. We weren't even fazed going down two goals. That came from our confidence and preparation. We knew France was good, but we were better."
Alex Morgan led the comeback with two goals, veteran striker Abby Wambach tallied her 139th international goal and Megan Rapinoe set up two goals, but the decisive strike came from a long-time starter who had been relegated to the bench. Lloyd, who scored the game-winner in the 2008 gold-medal win, broke a 2-2 deadlock with a 22-yard goal in the 56th minute.
Gaetane Thiney had given the French a 1-0 lead with 20-yard strike in the 12th minute. Two minutes later, the U.S.'s inability to clear a corner kick out of the penalty area -- the Americans had three opportunities to kick it out of harm's way -- led to Marie-Laure Delie's 12-yard goal.
Wambach headed home a Rapinoe corner kick to the far right post in the 19th minute before Morgan used her speed to equalize off a long punt by Solo in the 32nd minute. That set up Lloyd's heroics in the 56th minute. Midfielder Bompastor slipped on the right flank while vying for the ball, giving Rapinoe room to cross the ball to Lloyd. Morgan added a tap-in of a Tobin Heath feed 10 minutes later.
North Korea 2, Colombia 0
Kim Song Hui scored a goal in each half to lead the Koreans in a Group G encounter at Hampden Park. However, she might be doubtful for the Asians' Saturday encounter against France at the same venue because she suffered an injury and was taken off the field in stoppage time.
The start of the match was delayed an hour when the North Korean players refused to take the field due to a mistake by the International Olympic committee, which displayed South Korean flags next to names and photos of the North Korean players.
LOCOG, the Local Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, apologized.
"Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag," an IOC statement read. "Clearly that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."
Asked if he felt the error with the flags was a premeditated act or a simple mistake, North Korean coach Sin Ui Gun replied, "That question is what I was going to ask LOCOG and FIFA."
Sin could not blame his players for refusing to go out onto the field.
"We were angry because our players were introduced as if they were from South Korea, which may affect us greatly, as you might know.
"Winning the game cannot compensate; it is a different question, a different matter. . . Although we won the game, we hope this will not happen again in the next matches.
"Also, I want to stress once again that our players cannot be shown as other countries, especially with South Korean flags."
Colombia coach Ricardo Rozo Ocampo claimed the delay affected his players.
"It was very difficult for us," he said. "After the incident with the flag, we had to wait and warm up again and that took a lot of time. It affected the players' mood. We were very, very ready for the game and it definitely affected us, but we have two more matches to play and we can come back from this.
"We got off to a bad start after the incident with the flag, but it has not affected how we feel about the competition."
Ocampo admitted that he had not seen a situation like this in the Pan American Games or in South America.
"I have never seen a situation where one country can delay a match by an hour," he said. "It is a rare situation."
Great Britain 1, New Zealand 0
In the very first event of the Summer Games, Arsenal defender Stephanie Houghton scored from a free kick in the 64th minute to boost Great Britain to its first Olympic triumph. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley came up big in the waning minutes, saving an Amber Hearn shot in a Group E encounter in Cardiff, Wales.
"The occasion got to us at the start, but the important thing was to get the goal that won us the game," Great Britain coach Hope Powell said. "I thought New Zealand started better and it took us time to get to grips with the game. But the players put in an admirable performance in the conditions."
Japan 2, Canada 1
The Japanese started their quest to become the first team to win an Olympic gold medal a year after securing the Women's World Cup with a Group F win in Coventry. Nahomi Kawasumi struck in the 33rd minute before captain Aya Miyama scored just before halftime. Melissa Tancredi sliced the margin half for the Canadians in the 55th minute, but they could not get any closer.
Brazil 5, Cameroon 0
Marta struck for a brace and substitute Cristiane became the all-time leading women's Olympic goal-scorer as the South Americans rolled over Cameroon in a Group F game in Cardiff, Wales. Francielle and Renata Costa also found the back of the net for Brazil. Cristiane tallied her historic goal in the 78th minute before Marta put an exclamation point on the win 10 minutes later.
"The first match is always very difficult," Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos said. "There is a lot of emotion and anxiety involved, but we have been practicing and played a good game against a very fast Cameroon team."
Sweden 4, South Africa 1
Lisa Dahlkvist and Lotta Schelin scored a minute apart to break open a close Group F match against South Africa, which made its Olympic debut in a Group F game in Conventry The Swedes grabbed a 1-0 seventh-minute advantage thanks to a deflected shot from captain Nilla Fischer. Then Dahlkvist and Schelin scored only 60 seconds apart to propel Sweden to a 3-0 lead. After South Africa closed within two goals in the 60th minute, Schelin connected for her second of the game in the 64th minute.
Michael Lewis, who has written about soccer for four decades, is the only journalist who has covered every MLS Cup. He can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com or via Twitter at @soccerwriter.
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