France make it three from three
France completed a perfect record in Group A of the Women’s World Cup, winning their third game 1-0 against Nigeria thanks to a penalty by Wendie Renard.
The penalty came on 79 minutes after a VAR review confirmed a foul on Viviane Asseyi. Renard’s initial effort hit the post, but the penalty had to be retaken after goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie moved off the goal line early, and Renard made no mistake with her second effort. The ruling was an enforcement of new laws that state that goalkeepers must have one foot behind the line when a kick is taken, but it was a harsh way for Nigeria to miss out on a point.
France, who went into the game as clear favourites with sports betting companies, had already sealed their place in the knock-out stages, and will go to Le Havre for their next game, though it isn’t yet clear who they will be playing. Despite this narrow defeat, Nigeria still have a good chance of reaching the next stage as one of the tournament’s best third-placed sides.
The African side, currently ranked 38th in the world, put on a good display, though France were also guilty of missing several good chances. However, speaking after the game, the French manager Corinne Diacre paid tribute to her striker:
“I’d like to commend the courage Wendie showed. She had that tenacity to go back to the penalty spot and take that kick.”
France had the majority of possession throughout the game, and created a number of chances, but they didn’t manage a shot on target until the 65th minute, when Amel Majri fired her shot straight at Nnadozie. Their break came on 75 minutes when Ngozie Ebere fouled Asseyi and received a red card, having picked up a yellow card in the first half, and Renard kept her nerve.
France have now won all three of their group games at a World Cup for the first time, while Nigeria will be hoping to qualify for the knock-out stages for the first time since 1999. They are currently third in the list of third-placed teams across the six groups, but four of the groups have yet to conclude their fixtures, so the Africans face an anxious wait before they know their fate.
Words: Man Ngo