Captain Wendie Renard headed a late winner as France beat Brazil in a thrilling game in Brisbane at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Eugenie le Sommer put the French ahead after 17 minutes, before Debinha pulled Brazil level in the second half.
But Renard – who had been an injury doubt – headed in the decisive goal with seven minutes to go.
There was end to end action as two of the pre-tournament favourites delivered a game which lived up to expectations.
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Brazil would have qualified for the last 16 with victory but instead must wait until the final matchday to try to book a spot.
Pia Sundhage’s side meet Jamaica in their final group match, while France take on Panama. Both games will be played on 2 August, kicking off at 11.00 BST.
Captain Renard inspires her troops
Following a disappointing draw in their opening game against Jamaica and fitness concerns for key players – in particular Renard, who started having been touch and go with a calf problem – this was a make or break game for France.
The stakes were further heightened by a frenetic atmosphere in Brisbane, where the overwhelming majority of fans were in the yellow shirts of Brazil. When the Brazilian anthem was sung, you could have closed your eyes and imagined you were in the Maracana.
But France rose to the challenge, as their two on-pitch leaders – Renard, and all-time top scorer Le Sommer – took charge.
Their first goal was excellent. Sakina Karchaoui started the move with a left-footed cross from deep, Kadidiatou Diani kept it alive and Le Sommer was there with a perfectly cushioned header to steer the ball past Brazil keeper Leticia.
It was her 90th goal in 181 caps, and calms concerns about the French attack following the blunt showing versus Jamaica. The return of Selma Bacha following injury was an added boost.
Even more telling were the celebrations. Goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin ran to the bench and jumped into a scrum of about 10 celebrating substitutes. Manager Renard joined in too, high-fiving everyone.
Then, as it appeared they would have to settle for one point, Renard arrived at the back post unmarked to head in Bacha’s deep corner.
Brazil blunted but still promising
In their opening demolition of Panama, Brazil looked like the most cohesive attacking unit at the whole tournament. They were not allowed to be that by France.
The midfield became a battlefield, tough challenges aplenty. Brazil’s Luana and France’s Sandie Toletti were especially combative, both picking up first-half bookings for aggressive tackles.
As a result, Brazil’s quick and skilful forwards were often starved of service. But they persisted and earned a slice of luck for their equaliser on 58 minutes.
Kerolin’s pass took a deflection to fall perfectly for Debinha, and the Brazilian number nine calmly finished past Peyraud-Magnin.
Ultimately though they were outfought by France, and not even the introduction of the iconic Marta for her 22nd World Cup appearance could inspire another equaliser.
Like France, Brazil should still progress to the knock-out rounds and keep their dream alive – and this display showed they have battling steel to their game, as well as their skilful silk.
Wendie Renard Wendie Renard