France 4-0 Morocco: Le Sommer stars as Les Bleues qualify for the quarterfinals

Unbeaten throughout the group stages for a second successive FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament, France manager Hervé Renard restored the majority of Les Bleues’ big-hitters to his XI, with captain Wendie Renard and Sakina Karchaoui returning to the back-four. At the other end of the field, talismanic goal machine Eugénie Le Sommer came back into the fold to play behind the hat-trick hero against Panama, Kadidiatou Diani.

Becoming only the second-ever African nation to reach the knockout stages on their Women’s World Cup bow, Morocco named an unchanged lineup following their 1-0 victory over Colombia, with Ibtissam Jraïdi and Anissa Lahmari once again leading the line for the Atlas Lionesses.

FRA: Peyraud-Magnin, Périsset, Renard, De Almeida, Karchaoui; Dali, Geyoro, Toletti, Bacha; Le Sommer, Diani

MAR: Er-Rmichi, Aït El Haj, El Chad, ​​Benzina, Redouani; Ouzraoui, Tagnaout, Chebbak, Nakkach; Jraïdi, Lahmari

Participating in their fourth successive knockout stage appearance at a Women’s World Cup, France began on the front foot by taking the lead on the quarter-hour mark, as Kadidiatou Diani headed home Sakina Karchaoui’s lofted delivery into the danger area past Khadija Er-Rmichi, to continue the quest of getting her hands on the 2023 Golden Boot award. 

Already looking like making it a busy evening for El-Rmichi in the Moroccan goal, France unsurprisingly doubled their lead with only five further minutes surpassing on the match-day clock, as Aston Villa midfielder Kenza Dali sublimely fired another Diani goal involvement in the tournament into the far corner of the net, via the assistance of the post.

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With the result of the contest seemingly heading in one direction, Nesryne El Chad culminated Morocco’s nightmare start to proceedings in the 23rd minute by inexplicably losing possession in the penalty area, allowing France’s all-time leading goalscorer Eugénie Le Sommer to clinically fire home her 91st goal on the international stage.

On the back of their non-existent attendance in the French final third throughout a demoralising opening half, Morocco began the second half with a much more attacking sense of mind, as Ibtissam Jraïdi’s menacing run on goal forced Pauline Peyraud-Magnin to instinctively race off her goalline for the first time in the match.

However, it would be France who would once again find the back of the net in the 71st minute, as inconspicuous to the Moroccan defence, the goal-hungry Le Sommer arrived at the far post to nod substitute Vicki Bècho’s sublime cross from the right-hand flank past El-Rmichi for her second goal of the evening.

France’s convincing victory sets up a highly-anticipated quarter-final clash against co-hosts Australia, and a now fully-fit Sam Kerr, in Brisbane on Saturday. Meanwhile, despite suffering a rather one-sided round-of-sixteen exit, Morocco will surely depart their maiden Women’s World Cup in a spirited fashion after leaving their impression on so many with their positive displays throughout the group stage.

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