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The Roar


Caicedo stars as classy Colombia defeat South Korea

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25th July, 2023

Colombia have made the ideal start to their Women’s World Cup campaign, defeating a valiant South Korean side 2-0 at Sydney Football Stadium on Tuesday.

A 30th-minute Catalina Usme penalty opened the scoring for Colombia before 18-year-old ovarian cancer survivor Linda Caicedo sealed Las Cafeteras’ victory with some help from Yoon Young-geul, as the goalkeeper suffered a horror moment in the South Korean goal.

Players could be forgiven for some pent-up nervous energy, as the two sides were forced to wait until day six of the tournament to get on the field with all other 30 teams previously playing their first matches of the World Cup.

Caicedo looked threatening in the early stages but found herself tightly marked, unable to receive much ball.

Colombia manager Nelson Abadia was a conspicuous absentee from the technical area, serving a ban he only received on the eve of the tournament for his side’s opening two group stage fixtures, with assistant Angelo Marsiglia taking charge.

Known for their technical quality, South Korea were making the most of some early possession, winning a set-piece that was easily swallowed by Catalina Perez in the Colombian goal.

Both sides looked to transition quickly with plenty of 50-50 challenges flying in the midfield area.

The ground was nowhere near full, but in the context of the midday kick-off the gallery of just under 25,000 was impressive, continuing the trend of very encouraging attendances across Australia and New Zealand in the tournament so far.


The bright yellow tops of the Las Cafeteras supporters dotted around the Sydney Football Stadium were impossible to miss in the early afternoon sunshine, while the South Korean supporters were making plenty of noise at the Cove end, creating a jovial atmosphere for Sydney’s third match of the group stage.

The contest had settled somewhat after a physical opening 20 minutes, Colombia now able to control possession and find space between the lines.

Las Cafeteras would soon have a huge opportunity to go in front, referee Rebecca Walsh pointing to the penalty spot after Shim Seoyeon handled in the penalty area – already the ninth penalty of the World Cup – and received a yellow card for her troubles.

A quick VAR check verified the on-field decision, before 33-year-old veteran Usme stepped up and cooly dispatched the spot-kick past a helpless Young-geul to give Colombia the perfect start as the fans erupted into a wall of noise.

Conceding the first goal was always the worst-case scenario for Colin Bell’s defence-minded side, who were now required to take on the game.


And Colombia’s advantage would soon be doubled through Caicedo, becoming the youngest goal-scorer at the tournament.

The strike from the Real Madrid star looked like a regulation save for Young-geul, but her attempted catch was the stuff of nightmares – the South Korean goalkeeper letting the ball – as well as perhaps her side’s chances – slip through her fingers.

Despite the critical blow South Korean heads did not drop and the physicality ramped back up, and just before the conclusion of 10 minutes of injury-time they had almost pegged one back with Perez denying Lee Geum-min’s point-blank header with a fantastic diving save.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Half-time brought a change in tactics from Bell as he looked for a way back into the contest with 45 minutes left to play.

Bell then went to his bench for a double switch, bringing on Kang Chae-rim and Park Eun-sun to alter his side’s fortunes.


South Korea had started to gain some ascendency but still struggled to find the final ball to unlock the Colombian defence – a set-piece appeared to be their most likely avenue to goal.

Seemingly happy with their advantage Colombia committed fewer bodies forward, only really threatening in transition as they inched closer to a perfect start to their Group H campaign.

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Bell turned to 16-year-old Casey Phair, the youngest-ever woman to appear at a FIFA World Cup, with only 10 minutes left.

In the end the substitutes would not be able to affect the scoreline with Colombia sealing a mostly comfortable three points in the Sydney sunshine.

For all of their efforts South Korea lacked class and quality in the final third when it mattered, unable to capitalise on set-pieces and a few goal-mouth scrambles, while it was a decisive triumph for Colombia, laying a good foundation with the promise of more to come from their attacking stars.