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

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.”


Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

Updated 05 June 2020

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

  • Games pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO: Tokyo will scrap events marking a year to go until the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, organizers said Friday, citing the “current economic situation” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games have been pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the disease outbreak, though it remains unclear whether even that delay will be sufficient.
Last year, the city and organizers held a series of events to mark the one-year countdown, including unveiling the newly designed medals.
But given the global crisis, organizers ruled out a similar celebration.
“In view of the current economic situation, Tokyo 2020 will not be holding any events to mark the new one year to go milestone for the Games,” the organizers said.
“But we will consider what we can do to show our solidarity with the people.”
The confirmation came after reports in the Japanese media that organizers would scrap the event, fearing it was inappropriate given the global pandemic and the ongoing risk of infection inside Japan.
Kyodo News agency reported that posters and messages of encouragement to athletes might be put up and displayed online instead, adding that the organizing committee felt a more “moderate tone” was appropriate.
A nationwide state of emergency over the virus has been lifted in Japan, but a recent rise in cases in Tokyo has led to fears of a second wave.
The latest reports come after Tokyo’s governor confirmed the city and organizers are looking at ways to scale back next year’s Games.
Japanese media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on those reports, saying discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”
Organizers and Tokyo officials face the twin headaches of ensuring the postponed Games can be held safely, given the pandemic, and keeping additional costs to a minimum.
But with the pandemic continuing to rage in much of the world, it remains unclear whether the Games can be held next year.
On Friday, a member of the organizing committee’s executive board said a decision on whether the Games could be held or not would need to be taken in spring.
“I think we need to decide around March next year,” Toshiaki Endo, a former Olympic minister told reporters, denying speculation that the IOC intends to make a decision in October.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.
He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the disease isn’t under control by next year.