France claimed a vital and thrilling victory in the Women’s World Cup, securing three crucial points against Brazil with a 2-1 win during the group stage clash held in Brisbane. This victory marked their first triumph in the tournament, and it came after a somewhat disappointing draw in their opening match against Jamaica.
The stakes were high for France in this encounter, especially with concerns about the fitness of key players, notably Captain Wendie Renard, who had been uncertain to start due to a calf problem. Consequently, the match against Brazil became a make-or-break moment for the French team.
The atmosphere in Brisbane further intensified the pressure as the overwhelming majority of fans donned the yellow shirts of Brazil, creating a frenetic ambiance reminiscent of the iconic Maracanã stadium. However, the French team rose to the challenge, led by their on-pitch leaders, Wendie Renard, and all-time top scorer Le Sommer.
The first goal scored by France showcased their excellence. The move began with Sakina Karchaoui’s left-footed cross from deep, followed by Kadidiatou Diani’s determination to keep the ball alive, leading to Le Sommer’s perfectly cushioned header, which beat Brazil’s goalkeeper, Leticia.
Le Sommer’s goal, her 90th in 181 caps, alleviated concerns about the French attack, which had appeared lackluster in the match against Jamaica. Additionally, the return of Selma Bacha from injury provided an added boost to the team’s morale.
The celebrations that followed Le Sommer’s goal demonstrated the team’s unity and camaraderie, with goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin joining a jubilant scrum of about 10 celebrating substitutes, while Manager Renard enthusiastically high-fived everyone.
Brazil, who had displayed a cohesive attacking unit in their opening match against Panama, found it challenging to maintain that form against the determined French team. The midfield turned into a battlefield, witnessing numerous tough challenges from both sides. Luana of Brazil and France’s Sandie Toletti, in particular, were highly combative, each receiving first-half bookings for aggressive tackles.
As a result of the intense midfield battles, Brazil’s quick and skillful forwards were often deprived of service. Nevertheless, they persisted and managed to equalize in the 58th minute through Debinha, who calmly finished past France’s goalkeeper Peyraud-Magnin, benefiting from a deflection caused by Kerolin’s pass.
Despite Brazil’s tenacity, France ultimately emerged victorious, and not even the introduction of the legendary Marta, appearing in her 22nd World Cup, could inspire another equalizer.
With this win, France secured the top spot in Group F, sitting one point above Brazil. Both Panama and Jamaica, the other two teams in the group, will play against each other later in the day, and the final outcome of the group will only be determined on August 2. On that decisive day, Brazil will face Jamaica, while France will take on Panama, as all four teams vie for a spot in the knockout rounds to keep their World Cup dreams alive.