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GB thrill as Sweden and France meet

Published: Wednesday 1 August 2012, 11.03CET
Great Britain have delighted record-breaking crowds by winning all of their Olympic women's group games without conceding while Sweden and France set up an all-European quarter-final.
by Paul Saffer
from London
GB thrill as Sweden and France meet
Great Britain celebrate Stephanie Houghton's goal against Brazil at Wembley ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 1 August 2012, 11.03CET

GB thrill as Sweden and France meet

Great Britain have delighted record-breaking crowds by winning all of their Olympic women's group games without conceding while Sweden and France set up an all-European quarter-final.

All three European contenders are through to the quarter-finals of the Olympic women's football tournament but while Sweden and France have set up a last-eight showdown, the spotlight is upon the hosts.

Great Britain are in their debut competition as a combined team and have delighted a combined total of more than 125,000 fans with three straight Group E wins. They opened the Games last Wednesday in Cardiff by beating New Zealand 1-0 with a Stephanie Houghton goal, and the Arsenal LFC left-back completed the scoring three days later in the Welsh capital after Casey Stoney and Jill Scott had struck before the break in a 3-0 defeat of Cameroon.

That ensured GB a quarter-final berth but they lost defender Ifeoma Dieke, one of only two Scots in the squad, to injury and to top Group E needed to beat Brazil, who had also defeated Cameroon and New Zealand. A British women's football record crowd of 70,584 at Wembley were thrilled within two minutes when Houghton turned in Karen Carney's cross.

Despite a saved Kelly Smith penalty, GB held on against the silver-medallists in the last two Olympics to set up a Friday quarter-final in Coventry against Canada, who progressed from Group F as one of the two best third-placed sides, while Brazil must face world champions Japan.

"The whole day has just been fantastic," Houghton said. "It's unbelievable and amazing. To play in front of more than 70,000 people, you couldn't dream of a better day. There was no pressure on us because we knew we had qualified for the quarter-finals already. But now we are looking forward to Friday against Canada and we will just try to recover and then focus on that match."

Sweden also won their section in their only competitive action before hosting UEFA Women's EURO 2013 next July. They began with a comfortable 4-1 defeat of South Africa, Nilla Fischer and Lisa Dahlqvist's early goals added to be two Lotta Schelin strikes either side of a Portia Modise effort from the centre circle. Staying in Coventry, Sweden then held Japan 0-0 and although they let a lead through Marie Hammarström and Sofia Jakobsson slip in a 2-2 draw with Canada in Newcastle, they topped Group F on goal difference as Japan were held 0-0 by South Africa.

France now await Sweden in Glasgow after finishing second behind the United States in Group G. Les Bleues actually led the US, winners in 1996, 2004 and 2008, 2-0 within 14 minutes of their Hampden Park opener through Gaëtane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie. But Pia Sundhage's side were level by the break and were to win 4-2.

However, there was no comeback three days later as France took a half-time lead against North Korea thanks to Laura Georges. Élodie Thomis, Delie, Wendie Renard and Camille Catala sealed a 5-0 victory. Thomis scored again as France ensured progress by beating Colombia 1-0, but the US overcame North Korea by the same scoreline. The holders now play New Zealand, whose 3-1 defeat of Cameroon ensured they pipped North Korea as the second-best third-placed team.

The men's tournament group stage concludes on Wednesday with GB and Belarus both a draw away from the quarter-finals, but Switzerland must beat Mexico to have any chance and UEFA European Under-21 champions Spain are already out after losing to Japan and Honduras.

Quarter-finals (Friday)
Sweden v France (Glasgow, 13.00)
United States v New Zealand (Newcastle, 15.30)
Brazil v Japan (Cardiff, 18.00)
Great Britain v Canada (Coventry, 20.30)

Semi-finals (Monday)
Sweden/France v Brazil/Japan (Wembley, 18.00)
GB/Canada v US/New Zealand (Old Trafford, 20.45)

Medal matches (Thursday, 9 August)
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: 04/08/12 17.23CET

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