Women's Olympic Soccer 2012 Scores: Group Round Results, Standings & Highlights
The thrill ride of women's Olympic soccer continued on Saturday with an exciting slate of fixtures that did not disappoint.
In different arenas across the United Kingdom, women from all over the world exhibited a surprisingly high level of play and delivered scintillating football to the millions who watched on every continent.
With the group stage almost complete, the rest of the tournament promises to deliver some of the best action in the entire Games, and the knockout stages can only get better from here.
Here's a recap of what happened in all three groups and where each team stands.
Japan 0-0 Sweden
Reigning World Cup champions Japan were somewhat surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw by a very resilient Sweden side that remains at the top of Group F.
The Japanese, led by Homare Sawa, dictated play for the majority of the match and created several clear-cut chances that easily could have won them the match, but they could not manage to make the breakthrough.
The Swedes occasionally pushed forward, but, especially in the second half, Sweden were continually on the defensive, and they have the wonderful play of goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl to thank for the fortunate draw.
New Zealand 0-1 Brazil
Brazil nearly gave their fans heart attacks, but they came away with all three points against New Zealand with Cristiane's winner in the 86th minute.
New Zealand, perhaps knowing that they were the inferior side going into the match, adopted a strategy based upon resolute defending and a "bend but don't break" team attitude.
And, for almost all of the match, it worked very well. But just a few minutes away from snatching a precious point, the Kiwis finally made a critical error. Goalkeeper Jenny Bindon's punch went straight to Cristiane, who coolly lobbed her to win the match for Brazil.
Going into their match with Great Britain, the Brazilian women will know that they have a place in the knockout stages of the tournament with a six-point lead over both New Zealand and Cameroon.
Get your highlights here.
Canada 3-0 South Africa
Canada roundly smashed South Africa with a vintage performance from Christine Sinclair, who is on her way to becoming the greatest female forward of all time.
South Africa did a decent job of containing her during the first half, but Sinclair ran rampant in the second, threatening to score every time she touched the ball and finding the back of the net twice to take her goal tally for her country to 139.
Canada did not crush South Africa from the outset, but it was clear that they were going to come away with all three points, and Sinclair stepped up to clinch it for her side.
Canada now have a good shot to advance, as they are just one point behind leaders Japan and Sweden. With the loss, South Africa were eliminated.
Highlights can only be found here, but, unfortunately, you must be from the UK to view them. Blame commercialism.
France 5-0 North Korea
North Korea did a very good job to keep things close against a great French side, but the better team got itself together at the end and romped to the tune of four goals in the final 20 minutes to seal a 5-0 win.
As always, we had no idea what to expect from the North Koreans, whose players are largely unknown to the rest of the world and whose tactics are a mystery to all. They did well to break up France's play and find little pockets of space in midfield, but the killer ball eluded them throughout.
Boosted by a goal from Laura Georges just before halftime, France found their tune in the second period, and after Elodie Thomis slotted in their second, the floodgates blew wide open.
The wonderfully named Marie-Laure Delie netted a third, followed by strikes from Wendie Renard and Camille Catala.
France boost themselves to second in the group and probably only need a draw against Colombia to earn passage to the next round with the United States facing North Korea. Both France and North Korea are level on three points.
Watch the highlights here.
Great Britain 3-0 Cameroon
Victory was all too easy for Great Britain, as they coasted to victory and a guaranteed place in the knockout stages versus an overmatched Cameroon side.
Quick goals from captain Casey Stoney and Jill Scott in the 18th and 23rd minutes, respectively, allowed the British women to coast somewhat against a very athletic side that lacked much footballing skill.
The British delivered a great all-around performance, and at the heart of it was Kim Little, who was a live wire for the entire 90 minutes and dictated play.
Again, the BBC's highlights are available, but you must be British to view them.
USA 3-0 Colombia
As easily as they could have done it, the U.S. women clinched their place in the quarterfinals with a victory over Colombia that looked like a hot knife slicing through butter.
The goalscorers were very familiar. Keeping up her great run of form, Megan Rapinoe netted the first, Abby Wambach added her obligatory strike to make it 2-0 and Carli Lloyd easily made it 3-0 with a cool finish three minutes later.
Colombia deserve credit for giving the American women a good challenge for a stretch, but the better side controlled much of the game. Had the U.S. capitalized on more early chances, the scoreline could have been much more embarrassing.
Pia Sundhage can now rest her starters against North Korea after two quality wins to open the Olympics.
Highlights for Americans can be found here.
Group E Standings
Here's how Group E shakes out with one set of games to go:
Brazil: Points: 6 Goal difference: 6
Great Britain: Points: 6 Goal difference: 4
New Zealand Points: 0 Goal difference: -2
Cameroon Points: 0 Goal difference: -8
Group F Standings
Here's what Group F looks like at this stage. This is probably the most exciting group going into the last round of fixtures because three teams all have a good chance at qualifying, and whichever doesn't will be sorely disappointed.
Sweden: Points: 4 Goal difference: 3
Japan: Points: 4 Goal difference: 1
Canada Points: 3 Goal difference: 2
South Africa Points: 0 Goal difference: -6
Group G Standings
In Group G, it'll either be France or North Korea that snatch the second qualifying spot. If the Koreans can pull it off, it would be some upset, but they are unfortunately faced with the American juggernaut. Having already qualified, though, the U.S. will probably rest many of its starters.
United States: Points: 6 Goal difference: 5
France: Points: 3 Goal difference: 3
North Korea: Points: 3 Goal difference: 3
Colombia: Points: 0 Goal difference: -5