Captain Wendie Renard struck a late winner as France kickstarted their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Brazil in a heavyweight Group F clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
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After a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Jamaica in their opening game, France defied the Brazilian team and most of the 49,378 crowd to secure three vital points ahead of their final group match against tournament debutants Panama.
The French, who controlled much of the game, took an early lead through veteran striker Eugenie Le Sommer.
Brazil hit back to equalise in the second half through Debinha, but Renard appeared at the back post to head in an 83rd-minute winner from a corner.
On a perfect Brisbane evening, the French had the better of a lively first half, with their attacking duo of Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani causing the Brazilian defence all sorts of problems.
Le Sommer went close in the 13th minute only to be denied by a diving one-handed save from Brazil goalkeeper Leticia.
But four minutes later she was not to be denied as Sakina Karchaoui put in a long diagonal cross which Diani helped on for an unmarked Le Sommer to head in her 90th international goal.
Brazil struggled to put any real pressure on the French defence and they deserved to take the lead into the break.
However, Brazil came back into the game in the second half and were rewarded when Debinha latched onto a deflected shot from Kerolin and fired the ball past goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin to level proceedings.
The match began to open up with both teams going in search of a winner, and France went close as Grace Geyoro drew a good save from Leticia.
With time running out France struck again to secure a crucial victory.
Selma Bacha swung in a corner from the right seven minutes from time and Renard – who had been a pre-match injury doubt – appeared unmarked at the far post to head home and put her team on course for the knockout phase.
Brazil sent on veteran forward Marta but could not equalise a second time.