Solo, Team USA edge France, qualify for Olympic knockout rounds

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Maybe those Zika chants are giving Hope Solo strength.

Solo was magnificent again between the posts, and Carli Lloyd scored a second half goal to lead Team USA past France 1-0 on Saturday at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.

The crowd continued to amplify her goal kicks with “Zi-ka” chants, but Solo was again unbeatable in her 200th international start. She’s the first goalkeeper to reach that landmark.

MORE: Highlights / Full match replay

Both France and the U.S. took a step up in competition following opening wins over Colombia and New Zealand, respectively.

The win guarantees that the Yanks will finish no worse than second in their group regardless of how they fare against Colombia. New Zealand and Colombia square off later Saturday.

The Yanks pulled ahead in the 64th minute, as Tobin Heath’s near post shot was saved onto the post by France ‘keeper Sarah Bouhaddi, and Lloyd tapped home the rebound.

Whitney Engen entered the fold for an injured Julie Johnston, tasked with helping to hold down France’s dangerous attack.

Solo started her afternoon by tipping a Wendie Renard header off the bar and out for a corner in the 16th minute. With three decent chances to tap the ball in off the ensuing corner, France came away with a trio of flubs.

France worked well as the game neared the half-hour mark, winning a series of corners that eventually concluded with Solo collecting a floated cross and the USWNT building out of the back.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06: Alex Morgan of United States battles for the ball against Wendie Renard of FraFrance during the Women's Group F first round match between United States and France during Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Mineirao Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
(Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd won a dead-center free kick in the 29th minute, barely over 20 yards away from goal. Tobin Heath had a nice offering tipped over the bar, but it was ruled a goal kick.

Heath had another free kick in the 35th, but her arrow of a pass sailed wide of the far post as the attackers were closer to the center of goal.

Solo made a strong low save on a French counter, as the game moved toward halftime.

The ‘keeper was the star of the second half as well, especially when French desperation reared its head after Lloyd’s goal.