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France ease past Morocco to set up Australia World Cup clash

Eugenie Le Sommer scored twice as France eased to a 4-0 win over Morocco at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday and set up a quarter-final with co-hosts Australia.

Morocco had upset the odds to qualify for the last 16 at the expense of Germany in their debut appearance at the tournament but they never managed to lay a glove on Herve Renard’s French side in Adelaide.

Kadidiatou Diani opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark and it was 3-0 just after the midway point in the first half as Kenza Dali and Le Sommer added further goals.

Veteran striker Le Sommer, who is France’s all-time top scorer, netted again 20 minutes from time before a crowd of 13,557 as Les Bleues advanced to the last eight with a minimum of fuss.

They will now play Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, with the winners of that going on to play either England or Colombia in the semi-finals.

“We fulfilled our objective. You always want a little bit more, but it’s fine,” Renard told broadcaster M6.

France were knocked out in the quarter-finals as hosts in 2019, losing to eventual winners the United States.

A win against Australia will see them equal their best-ever performance at the World Cup, when they got to the last four in 2011.

“Now we can start thinking about the quarter-final against the host nation,” Renard added.

“We have matched our performance of four years ago, but our objective was to do better than we did in 2011, so we know what we have left to do.”

Asked if his side could beat the Matildas in front of a hostile crowd, he said: “We are capable of doing it but it won’t be easy, albeit not easy for either team.”

•          Gulf in class –

While France are desperate to win a first major women’s international title, Morocco came into this game with the pressure off, their World Cup already a huge success.

Their coach, the former French international midfielder Reynald Pedros, named an unchanged starting line-up following the 1-0 win over Colombia that sealed their place in the knockout phase.

Renard made five changes from the France side that beat Panama 6-3, including recalling Sakina Karchaoui at left-back.

Karchaoui, whose parents are Moroccan, set up the opener with a great run down the left flank, a quick exchange of passes with Selma Bacha, and a cross for Diani to nod in.

It was Diani’s fourth goal at the tournament after her hat-trick against Panama in the final group game.

The second goal arrived in the 20th minute as Diani cut the ball back for Dali to sweep home a first-time finish in off the far post.

And it was 3-0 three minutes after that following a defensive error, with Nesryne El Chad trying to clear but only succeeding in playing the ball off Diani, who set up Le Sommer.

At that point Morocco might have feared an even heavier defeat than the 6-0 hammering they received from Germany in their first game.

However, France took their foot off the pedal after that and only scored once more.

In the 70th minute substitute Vicki Becho crossed from the right for Le Sommer to head in her 92nd international goal at the back post.

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