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AFP
June 14, 2019

France and Germany grind towards knockouts

Sports

AFP
June 14, 2019

VALENCIENNES, France: Eugenie Le Sommer fired Women’s World Cup hosts France to the top of Group A after scoring the winning penalty to see off determined Norway on Wednesday, while Germany virtually assured themselves of missing the rampant United States in the last 16 after squeezing past Spain and taking control of Group B.

Lyon star Le Sommer fired home from the spot with 18 minutes left after referee Bibiana Steinhaus decided after a VAR review that Norway defender Ingrid Syrstad Engen had kicked Marion Torrent on the knee after making a hash of a clearance.

The 30-year-old’s second goal of the tournament put France on a perfect six points after two games and saved the blushes of her club teammate Wendie Renard, who had cancelled out Valerie Gauvin’s 46th-minute opener for ‘Les Bleues’ with a barely-believable own goal.

Renard, whose height and power had led to Norway using a similarly tall press officer to simulate her presence in the area for set-pieces in training, was visibly distraught after tapping Isabell Herlovsen’s cross into her own net under no pressure.

Le Sommer stepped up to save the points and put them to within a point of topping the group ahead of Monday’s final match against Nigeria, who saw off South Korea 2-0 in Wednesday’s early match thanks to a a comical own goal from Kim Do-yeon and a superb burst and finish from Asisat Oshoala.

France are three points ahead of both Nigeria and Norway, who now need to hold off South Korea to be sure of arriving AT the knockout stage. Thomas Dennerby’s Nigeria meanwhile are eyeing a first qualification to the knockout stage for 20 years after just their second World Cup win in that time.

Earlier Germany brushed off the absence of injured star player Dzsenifer Marozsan as Sara Daebritz downed Spain to move her side top of their group. Marozsan will miss at least the German’s final group stage match against bottom side South Africa after breaking her toe in her side’s opening 1-0 win over China, but Wednesday’s hard-fought win means her lay-off should be less of a problem in the sort-term.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Daebritz made Germany strong favourites to top the group by pouncing three minutes before the break ahead of dithering Spain defender Marta Torrejon, who only had to clear the ball after her goalkeeper Sandra Panos did well to save Alexandra Popp’s header.

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