A controversial penalty decision is enough to spare the blushes of centre-back Wendie Renard following her atrocious own goal. The penalty coupled with a goal straight from second half were enough for France to seal all three points against a determined Norwegian team.
The first half saw two teams who looked pretty evenly matched going toe to toe. They both had their chances but neither could make their spells of pressure count for anything. The pick of the bunch came for Valerie Gauvin after some great work by Kadidiatou Diani on the right wing. Her ball across the face of the goal had slightly too much on it for the on-rushing Gauvin to reach.
The second period started like a house on fire with Valerie Gauvin giving her side the lead pretty much straight from kick off. The ball came in from the left wing into the middle of the six yard area where Gauvin was waiting to turn it home. However, less than eight minutes later, Norway were level.
The equaliser happened when a cross came in from the left wing – there was nobody there to meet it and all Wendie Renard needed to do was turn it behind, but she couldn’t. Much to her dismay, Renard’s attempted clearance nestled in the bottom corner. From match hero in the opener, to absolute zero five days later in the second group game.
Fortunately for Renard, her blushes were spared 15 minutes later when referee Bibiana Steinhaus gave a very contentious penalty. The incident came when Marion Torrent picked the ball up in the box, only to be immediately dispossessed by Ingrid Engen. Replays showed the defender slightly followed through on Torrent and nicked her thigh. VAR told the referee they were checking the incident, but Steinhaus wanted to see for herself and she ran to the pitch-side screen.
It was a harsh decision in all honesty, but the penalty was given nonetheless and Eugenie Le Sommer buried the penalty emphatically. From thereon, the game was relatively dull and Norway didn’t really ever look like getting back into the game. At the full-time whistle, there were sighs of relief around the Stade de Nice, not least from France’s number three.
France stay atop the group A table with just the one round of fixtures left to play. They go up against Nigeria in their final game – a side who will be energised following their win against South Korea this afternoon.