Leading up to Saturday’s encounter with European powers France, Colombia midfielder Yoreli Rincon told media her side was going to shock the world.
When the final whistle blew on a beautiful sunny day at Moncton Stadium, Las Cafeteras had delivered on that promise.
Despite being outshot, 21-3, holding just 40 percent possession and getting away with a blatant handball that would have led to a penalty kick and straight red card, Colombia defeated Les Bleues, 2-0, for its first-ever World Cup win.
Controversy aside, the win is the biggest upset in World Cup history based on differential in rankings: France is third while Colombia sits at 28th.
It was a shocking turn of events for a side that was swept in the 2012 Olympics but the celebration following the win perfectly embodied the passion and desire of Colombia that France was lacking for much of the match.
“Words really can’t describe what it feels like,” Colombia defender Nataly Arias told Fox Sports after the game. “… Indescribable feeling, and at this part of my life, this is probably one of the best [moments] of my life.”
Anything but a French win seemed wishful thinking at the start of the game.
Les Bleues immediately put Colombia on the back foot stringing passes together so seamlessly that a goal was just a matter of time. But Las Cafeteras’ defense held strong, with frustration stating to leak from the French players as the game remained scoreless. The most notable was when star midfielder Louisa Necib threw the ball at her teammate in what was bizarrely called a foul throw.
Moments later, Colombia piled on to France’s frustration when Rincon collected a loose ball near the top of Les Bleues’ 18-yard box.
The 21-year-old phenom quickly picked up her head and played a perfectly weighted ball in behind a flat-footed France backline to the feet of midfielder Lady Andrade who calmly slotted the ball to the near post past goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.
Having conceded against the run-of-play, France succumbed to some panic as Colombia’s defense continued to make life difficult in defense and goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda—who started in place of Stefany Castano—continued to make some impressive stops.
By the first half’s end, France held the advantage in shots, 7-1, but trailed a resilient Colombia side.
A halftime talk from head coach Philippe Bergeroo calmed the nerves some, with solid build up play leading to an early chance from midfielder Elise Bussaglia whose long range effort was denied spectacularly by Sepulveda.
But just when Necib and forward Eugenie Le Sommer started to dominate, Bergeroo replaced the “female Zidane” in the 63rd minute to the surprise of many, in a move that appeared to strain the side’s rhythm.
Le Sommer still managed to threaten, however, and in the 67th minute would have been through on goal had it not been for a handball from Daniela Montoya, the midfielder responsible for the equalizer against Mexico.
But to the luck of Colombia and misfortune of France, the referee did not see the play allowing Las Cafeteras to escape a potential game-changing situation.
Les Bleues still continued to pile on the attack yet falter time and time again thanks to the spectacular saves made from Sepulveda or poor passing in the final third.
“There were numerous aspects that weren’t quite right,” Bergeroo said postgame. “We weren’t accurate enough with our passes at key moments. Despite that, we still created chances, but their goalkeeper had a great match.”
The same could not be said for France’s keeper Bouhaddi, whose needless giveaway at the back led to an easy counter for Colombia which substitute Catalina Usme easily buried late into stoppage time.
The loss leaves France surprisingly in third place of Group F with one game remaining against Mexico while Colombia enters its matchup against England at the top of the group and brimming with confidence.
France (1-0-1; 3 points) vs. Colombia (1-1-0; 4 points)
June 13, 2015 — Moncton Stadium, New Brunswick, Canada
Scoring by Period 1 2 F
France 0 0 0
Colombia 1 1 2
COL: Lady Andrade –19’
COL: Catalina Usme – 90 + 3’
Sandra Sepulveda (yellow card) 69’
Diana Ospina (yellow card) 79’
FRA: Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard (C), Laure Boulleau, Laura Georges, Jessica Houara, Camille Abily, Kenza Dali (Marie-Laure Delie, 77’) Louisa Necib (Claire Lavogez, 63’), Elise Bussaglia (Amadine Henry, 63’), Eugenie Le Sommer, Gaetane Thiney
COL: Sandra Sepulveda, Orianica Velasquez, Angela Clavijo, Nataly Arias, Carolina Arias, Natalia Gaitan (C), Diana Ospina, Daniela Montoya, Yoreli Rincon (Isabella Echeverri, 87’), Lady Andrade (Tatiana Ariza, 90’), Ingrid Vidal (Cataline Usme, 55’)