Despite conceding a goal after 67 seconds into the game, France thrashed debutant Panama 6-3 on Wednesday to book a last 16 spot at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Kadidiatou Diani scored a hat-trick in Sydney as fifth-ranked France topped Group F with seven points. Jamaica finished second after a goalless draw eliminated Brazil.
After a sluggish scoreless draw against Jamaica, France ignited their campaign with a 2-1 victory over Brazil but received an early scare against underdog Panama.
Only needing a draw to qualify, France was stunned in the second minute when Panama captain Marta Cox scored a spectacular goal from a long-range free-kick.
It was Panama’s first World Cup goal with a teary-eyed Cox emotional in celebration.
A rattled France went on the attack and was rewarded in the 21st minute through a goal from Maelle Lakrar.
France found their rhythm and hit the front in the 28th minute when Diani scored on her second attempt.
She added another through a penalty kick after a Panama handball in the box and France’s domination was complete when Lea Le Garrec scored moments before half-time.
France maintained their intent after the interval with Diani completing her hat-trick with one more penalty kick after another Panama handball in the box.
Panama received consolation goals when Yomira Pinzon scored a penalty and Lineth Cedeno headed home late with France’s intensity easing, but Vicki Becho capped the goal feast deep into stoppage time as France will await their round of 16 opponent with Group H in action on Thursday.