France left it until the second period of extra time to beat Brazil as Amandine Henry saved the day for the hosts.
From the off, it was clear how evenly matched the two sides were with both teams having chances to take the lead. After 24 minutes, France thought they had taken the lead when Valerie Gauvin looked to beat Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara in the air.
As the two jumped to challenge for the ball, Gauvin met the ball just as Barbara got her hands to it. The two came together and were both left on the floor in pain. After a lengthy delay, the referee was advised to check VAR to see if there had been a foul on the goalkeeper. She went to the side screen, replays showed Barbara had gotten both hands on the ball before it was Gauvin made contact, although she didn’t have it under her control. The referee saw it differently and nearly four minutes after the ball crossed the line, the goal was disallowed.
It would take until the second half for the breakthrough to come and this time, Gauvin could celebrate properly. It came when Kadidiatou Diani dribbled to the by-line before pulling the ball back to Gauvin who was waiting to turn it home.
Ten minutes later, Brazil got themselves back onto level terms when Debinha broke down the left wing. She whipped her cross into the box, Wendie Renard tried to clear but it fell to Thaisa who slammed it home. At first, the assistant referee flagged and waved the goal off but VAR got involved – replays showed there was no offside at all and goal was awarded.
With both sides having chances, neither could make them count and the game ended up going through to extra time. With France having had an extra days rest, as well as many of Brazil’s squad being deep into their thirties, the hosts seemed to have the upper edge. The more minutes that ticked by, the more France looked like they were gaining the upper hand.
The moment they had all been waiting for eventually came a minute into the second period of extra time. A free kick was delivered beautifully into the box from deep inside the Brazilian half. Skipper Amandine Henry managed to get herself around the back and stabbed the ball past the keeper. 2-1, and France are in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup.
France will have a close eye on proceedings tomorrow evening in Reims when USA take on Spain. The winner of that one will have the pleasure of facing France in what is sure to be a classic World Cup quarter-final.