France beats Norway 2-1 to remain undefeated in Women's World Cup

France's Eugenie Le Sommer celebrates with teammates in Nice. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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France beats Norway 2-1 to remain undefeated in Women's World Cup

  • Le Sommer came to the rescue and moved France to 2-0 in this tournament

NICE, France: Eugenie Le Sommer scored the winning goal from the penalty spot to lift host nation France to a 2-1 win over Norway at the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.
Then she had a special embrace for one of her teammates.
France defender Wendie Renard almost cost France the game when she turned the ball into her own net to even the match at 1-1.
Le Sommer came to the rescue and moved France to 2-0 in this tournament when she scored the winner in the 72nd minute. A relieved Renard was one of the first players to celebrate with Le Sommer.
“I knew it was hard for her,” Le Sommer said. “I know Wendie well, and I know how much she can give us. She came up to me completely naturally and thanked me and I just said ‘No.’“
“In the first match she scored two goals. What’s most important is the group. I’m happy also for her that her mistake was rectified.”
Neither goalkeeper was really tested in an entertaining first half, but France took the lead immediately after the break when Valerie Gauvin tapped in Amel Majri’s cross. Gauvin had been benched at the start of France’s opening 4-0 win over South Korea, reportedly because she was late to training.
Norway tied it eight minutes later when Renard knocked Isabell Herlovsen’s low cross into her own net.
Renard, considered one of the best defenders in the world, appeared to be in tears as she raised her face to the sky in anguish.
“I made a huge, huge mistake but we showed our character,” Renard said. “Amel was speaking to me but I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. So to be safe I went to put it out for a corner but it ended up in the back of the net.
“It could have ruined the night, it could have put us in difficulty mentally but we really showed that we are ready, that we are strong.”
Video review was used on Le Sommer’s game-winning goal, which stood because a penalty was awarded after a high tackle by Ingrid Syrstad Engen on Marion Torrent.
“I saw the replays from afar and for me there was a contact that deserved the penalty,” Le Sommer said. “If it was against us, well I don’t know. ... I think the referee made the right decision. In the first match the VAR took away a goal from us, in this match it helped us get one, but what was most important was to win this match and the VAR maybe helped us, but we have to get used to this now in football.”
France is three points ahead of Norway in Group A. Nigeria was also three points behind France, which is vying to become the first nation to hold both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles at the same time.
“It was a battle for top spot, even though we can’t denigrate the last match against Nigeria,” Le Sommer said. “It was a very important victory today for our preparation for the rest of the tournament.”
Norway, which won the competition in 1995, is playing without Ada Hegerberg. The 2018 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner stepped down from the national team because of what she says are differences in the way the federation treats the men’s and women’s teams.
“We lost the match but I thought we were equal with the French,” Norway coach Martin Sjogren said. “We knew that we were going to face a very good opponent and we had a good plan. I wasn’t surprised by the French team — we knew they were going to be athletic with fast players and speed — but we played well and I’m very proud of how my players performed out there.
“In my book, I think we deserved a 1-1.”


Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

Updated 18 June 2019
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Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

  • The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay
  • Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time

SAO PAULO: Chile’s experienced Copa America team proved too good for Japan’s young squad.

The two-time defending champions opened their Copa America campaign with a 4-0 win over the Asian guests on Monday, with Eduardo Vargas scoring a pair of goals to become Chile’s all-time leading scorer in the South American competition.

Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez also scored for the titleholders, which are trying to become the first nation to win three straight Copa titles since Argentina in the late 1940s. Vargas scored twice in the second half to reach 12 goals with Chile in the tournament, two more than Enrique Hormazabal.

The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay, which opened with a 4-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

“Chile has players who are very experienced, who know each other very well,” Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “The challenge today was to avoid a bad debut. We were humble and entered with our feet on the ground. We were playing against a team that was very competitive in all sectors.”

Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time, brought to Brazil a young squad focused on the Olympic tournament at home next year. The Japanese youngsters struggled against the veteran Chilean squad which was in control from the start at the Morumbi Stadium.

Chile won the last two editions of the Copa America, beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the final both in 2015 and 2016. Argentina is the only team to have won three consecutive South American titles, from 1945-47.

Boosted by most of the 23,253 fans at the Morumbi, Chile created most of the significant chances.

After Pulgar headed in a corner-kick cross by Charles Aranguiz in the 41st minute, Vargas added to the lead with a shot from outside the area in the 54th after a pass by Mauricio Isla.

Sanchez found the net with a header in the 82nd, and Vargas closed the scoring about a minute later with a long lob shot over goalkeeper Keisuke Osako as he charged from his net.

It was a good opening match for Sanchez after a difficult season with Manchester United.

“I was coming off a difficult month-and-a-half,” said the 30-year-old Sanchez, who injured his ankle late in the season. “I struggled in the first 45 minutes, I felt tired, but I improved in the second half.”

Rueda, debuting with Chile in an official tournament, has been gradually revamping the squad since he took over in 2018. Among the veterans back from the team’s recent triumphs were Vargas, Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, who also had a good opener.

Japan last played in the Copa America in 1999, when it was eliminated in the group stage. Among the youngsters in Brazil was Takefusa Kubo, the 18-year-old who has joined Real Madrid’s “B” team for next season. He played from the start and was a threat for Japan in attack. He got an ovation from the crowd at the Morumbi after getting past a defender with a ball through his legs about 10 minutes into the match. He nearly scored after a nifty move past a defender inside the area in the 65th, but his shot hit the outside of the net. Japan had a few good chances to get on the board toward the end of the game but could not capitalize on them.