France are “outsiders” for the Women’s World Cup, according to boss Corinne Diacre, despite the hosts all but securing a place in the knockout stage with victory over Norway.
A penalty by Eugenie le Sommer, after Marion Torrent was fouled by Ingrid Syrstad Engen, earned France a second successive Group A win after Norway had looked like securing a point.
However, Diacre said her side’s display in Nice showed that France still have plenty of work ahead of them.
“We did what we had to do. We’re still outsiders for the tournament,” she said.
“We found some difficulties here and this match shows it. The World Cup is very complex.
“Little by little, along the way – that’s when you become the favourite.”
France top Group A with six points from two games – three ahead of second-placed Norway and third-placed Nigeria – with one group game left against Nigeria on Monday (20:00 BST).
Cheered on by a crowd of 34,872 in Nice, hosts France had to dig deep to seal victory against a determined Norway side.
In a high quality game, France were on course to drop points for the first time in the tournament after a calamitous own goal by Wendie Renard, who scored two against South Korea.
Attempting to put Isabell Herlovsen’s cross out for a corner, Renard instead found her own net eight minutes after France took the lead through Valerie Gauvin.
Amel Majri’s cross found Gauvin, who got in front of Chelsea’s Maria Thorisdottir to send the partisan crowd into raptures.
Gauvin did not start the win over South Korea after showing up late for training.
Slick and inventive, Norway were certainly not fazed by the occasion.
Yet the 1995 World Cup winners finished with nothing to show for their efforts when, with the score 1-1, a penalty was awarded following a video assistant referee (VAR) review after Torrent was kicked by Engen.
Le Sommer scored from the spot to join Marie-Laure Delie as France’s all-time highest Women’s World Cup scorer, with five.
“We knew we weren’t going to be winning 4-0 and wanted to show a lot of respect,” added Diacre.
Norway boss Martin Sjogren said his side deserved a point.
“We lost the match but I thought we were equal with the French,” added Sjogren.
“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.”
Ageing France show their experience – the stats
- With an average age of 28 years and 189 days, France fielded their oldest-ever starting 11 at a Women’s World Cup tournament.
- Norway are only the second team in Women’s World Cup history to benefit from an own-goal in consecutive games in the competition, after Japan in 2015.
- Wendie Renard is the first player to score an own-goal for France at a Women’s World Cup tournament.
- Eugenie Le Sommer has scored 12 goals in her last 12 international appearances for France, including a goal in both of France’s games at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.