Gifted teenager Linda Caicedo scored as Colombia beat a disappointing South Korea 2-0 to open their Women’s World Cup campaign on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old Real Madrid striker, who overcame cancer three years ago, was the beneficiary of a glaring goalkeeping error against a blunt South Korea.
One of the best young attackers in women’s football, Caicedo has now scored at the Under-17 World Cup, the Under-20 World Cup, and the biggest one of them all.
Catalina Usme had earlier scored a penalty for Nelson Abadia’s side, losing Copa America finalists to Brazil last year.
They move onto three points in Group H with Germany, who thrashed Morocco 6-0 on Monday. Germany and Colombia meet next.
South Korea coach Colin Bell brought on United States-born attacker Casey Phair near the end, and at 16 years and 26 days, she made history as the youngest Women’s World Cup player ever.
It was the lone bright spot for South Korea, who actually made a better start in the Sydney sunshine in front of just over 24,000.
A goalbound attempt from Tottenham Hotspur’s Cho So-hyun from outside the box deflected wide and then Choe Yu-ri should have scored but fired tamely at the goalkeeper.
Colombia have a reputation for being physical, and with strong backing from their noisy and colourful fans, so it proved.
Defender Manuela Vanegas was booked after only 10 minutes as they struggled to get a foothold.
Colombia, known as “the Powerpuff Girls” and making their third appearance at the World Cup, grew into the game and took the lead on the half-hour after their first proper attack.
Defender Shim Seo-yeon blocked a goalbound shot in the box with her hand and Usme stepped up to stroke the resulting penalty into the net past a wrong-footed Yoon Young-geul.
The goal spurred the South Americans on and they led 2-0 six minutes before half-time thanks to a huge error by Yoon.
Caicedo, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 15 but went on to make a full recovery, took the ball down the left, cut in and from just outside the box struck the ball with her right foot.
It should have been a simple save for Yoon, but the ball squirmed excruciatingly through her hands and into the net.