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France reach final four as Europe's last hope

Published: Saturday 4 August 2012, 19.40CET
France defeated Sweden and Canada beat Great Britain in the quarter-finals, leaving Les Bleues as Europe's sole medal contenders at the Olympic women's football tournament.
by Dan Ross
from London
France reach final four as Europe's last hope
France's Wendie Renard celebrates scoring what proved to be the winning goal ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 4 August 2012, 19.40CET

France reach final four as Europe's last hope

France defeated Sweden and Canada beat Great Britain in the quarter-finals, leaving Les Bleues as Europe's sole medal contenders at the Olympic women's football tournament.

Europe's hopes of a medal at the Olympic women's football tournament now rest solely with France after they defeated Sweden in the quarter-finals and hosts Great Britain lost to Canada.  

Sweden and France finished third and fourth respectively at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, the former beating the latter 2-1 in their play-off. At Hampden Park on Friday things seemed to be heading the way of Thomas Dennerby's side again when captain Nilla Fischer (18) put Sweden ahead.

However, Les Bleues battled back before half-time with set-piece goals from Olympique Lyonnais duo Wendie Renard and Laura Georges. France were also grateful to goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who made a wonderful save from Fischer's late volley to book her team a place in the last four.

World champions Japan will be the sizeable obstacle in front of Bruno Bini's side in the semi-finals after defeating Brazil 2-0 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Goals from Yuki Ogimi and Shinobu Ohno sandwiched several opportunities squandered by Brazil's Renata Costa, captain Marta and Cristiane. 

Japan's victims on penalties in last year's world final, the United States, are also safely through. Pia Sundhage's charges are gunning for their fourth Olympic gold – their third in succession – and are on course after overcoming New Zealand 2-0 in Newcastle courtesy of Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux. 

Their opponents, however, will not be hosts Great Britain, who suffered disappointment following their perfect group campaign, succumbing 2-0 to Canada in Coventry.

Canada had progressed as one of the two best third-placed teams, but overpowered GB from the outset. Jonelle Filigno's thumping, first-time effort put Canada into a 12th-minute lead and captain Christine Sinclair added a second a quarter of an hour later, curling in a free-kick for her 140th international goal.

After the setback, GB coach Hope Powell said she would like to see a GB women's team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "If we get the opportunity again I would definitely give it the thumbs up, it has been an incredible journey," she said.

Semi-finals (Monday)
France v Japan (Wembley, 18.00)
Canada v United States (Old Trafford, 20.45)

Medal matches (Thursday)
Bronze (Coventry, 14.00)
Gold/Silver (Wembley, 20.45)

(Kick-offs CET, UK is one hour behind)

Past medallists
2008: US (gold), Brazil (silver), Germany (bronze)
2004: US (gold), Brazil (silver), Germany (bronze)
2000: Norway (gold), US (silver), Germany (bronze)
1996: US (gold), China (silver), Norway (bronze)

Last updated: 05/08/12 17.13CET

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