Un, deux, trois
Traditionally a defensively strong team it was clear that the occasion had South Korea rattled, the hosts needing no further encouragement to get at their opposition in the noisy Parc des Princes. The right channel where Les Bleues were enjoying themselves as both Marion Torrent and Delphine Cascarino raced up the flank to deliver into the box. South Korea scrambled as the chances flowed like a running tap. Already with two missed chances to her name, Eugénie Le Sommer side-footed finish left the fans roaring as it clipped off the underside of the and dropped into the goal.
The pressure from France was unrelenting, like a dog with a soiled chew-toy, the hosts pawed and gnashed at their visitors, dragging the stuffing out of them. Griedge Mbock could have had the second, an attempted acrobatic effort flew over before the centreback volleyed a delicious ball into the back of the net. But it wasn’t to be, the celebrations were long over before it went to a video review and was eventually ruled out for offside – VAR had arrived. Yet it mattered not to Les Bleues and they soon had their second through a defender, Wendie Renard’s trademark towering header enough to extend their advantage.
The tallest woman on the pitch put the match beyond any reasonable doubt with the last action of the first half, planting her studs into the ground and leading into Amel Majri’s corner. With Minjung Kim rooted in place the ball angled away from the hapless goalkeeper and rolled against the inside of the net, rippling more raucous applause through the stade.
The calm after the storm
A World Cup in a long ordeal and after 45 rip-roaring minutes, France [truthfully] didn’t need to do much after the break. The match was one, the focus had already shifted to keeping fit and ready for their second outing; injuries were to be avoided, embarrassments were unlikely.
France even managed to ease off enough to let South Korea get a shot away 21 minutes before time. A long ball over the top found Lee Mina five minutes later and the striker seemed as surprised as anyone as the ball bounced off of her shin, freeing her of Renard, her subsequent shot a poor one.
Almost looking exposed in defence, France responded with a goal of pure class from Amandine Henry. Keen to get up and attack all match, the captain took her chance five minutes from time, curling the ball into the far side of the net to rubber-stamp the victory.
It’s not hard to pick a stand out player for France, and although Renard did her usual bits at set pieces, it was Cascarino doing her own usual up the right that impressed the most. Fearless and talented, the young Lyon woman spent the majority of her 70 minutes terrorising the South Korean defence whilst setting up her teammates.
From here, South Korea need to regroup and fast. One loss isn’t the end of their tournament but they were picked apart by France and need to show some mental strength before their encounter with Nigeria in Grenoble.
For France, that first ten minutes was pure gold, the scoreline enough to show their potential without any of the starting XI overexhorting themselves. It’s, of course, a start as they mean to go on, and it’s a long way to Lyon but there could have been no better start for Les Bleues.