Soccer: France, U.S. and Japan into semi-finals
By Mike Collett
LONDON (Reuters) - France came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 and defending champions United States had a relatively straight-forward 2-0 win over New Zealand to reach the semi-finals of the women's Olympic soccer competition on Friday.
World champions Japan also made the last four with a 2-0 win over Brazil meaning they will play France at Wembley in the last four on Monday.
The U.S., seeking a fourth women's soccer gold, will meet the winner of the Britain-Canada game at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium on the same day.
France, playing in the Olympics for the first time, avenged last year's defeat by Sweden in the third place playoff at the World Cup with two goals from set-pieces from Laura Georges and Wendie Renard at Hampden Park, Glasgow.
They cancelled out Nilla Fischer's 18th minute header for the Swedes, strong favorites for a medal before the tournament started.
Georges equalized after 29 minutes with a header when Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl palmed Louisa Necib's corner straight to Georges who scored.
Their second came after 39 minutes when Sweden failed to clear a free kick and the ball fell to Renard who cracked the ball in.
France coach Bruno Bini told reporters: "We played some great creative football, it was perfect. We scared their defense at corners with Wendie and Laura being so strong. We didn't buckle against a really strong Swedish team either."
Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby said: "I am totally lost. I am extremely disappointed as we came into the tournament with the aim of getting to the semi-finals and we could not do that."
Goals in each half from Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux gave three-times Olympic champions the U.S. their win over New Zealand at St.James' Park in Newcastle.
Wambach put the U.S. ahead in the 27th minute, sliding in at the back post to convert a superb pass from Alex Morgan for her fourth goal in as many games at the tournament.
The U.S. were well in charge of the game but it was not until three minutes from the end that they made sure of victory when substitute Leroux showed her pace and strength, bursting into the area and firing home.
Japan weathered a bright start by Brazil and gradually took control of the game after Yuki Ogimi scored in the 26th minute. Shinobu Ohno struck an excellent second goal high into the roof of the net with 18 minutes to play to seal the victory.
(Reporting by Mike Collett and Simon Evans in Miami, editing by Nigel Hunt)
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