France sparked hope in their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign on Saturday with a crucial 2-1 victory over Brazil, while Sweden obliterated Italy 5-0 to advance into the round of 16.
In the late match, Allyson Swaby’s header from a corner in the 56th minute was the deciding factor in Jamaica’s 1-0 win over Panama in Perth.
This was Jamaica’s first win at a World Cup, having lost all three games in their tournament debut four years ago in France.
Jamaica dominated the match and squandered several opportunities to widen the scoreline. Nevertheless, the result brought them level with France on four points in Group F. Brazil stands at three points, while newcomer Panama has been eliminated following their second consecutive defeat.
In front of a boisterous crowd of 49,378 at Brisbane Stadium, captain Wendie Renard netted an 83rd-minute decider, propelling France past Brazil in a high-stakes match.
Renard — who had been questionable for the match due to a calf injury — scored from the back post, enabling France to secure its first win of the tournament.
“If she hadn’t been able to play today, I’m certain the outcome wouldn’t be the same,” France coach Herve Renard said of his 33-year-old captain. “Sometimes, a shaky start at a tournament like this can be beneficial as it makes you more determined. Our objective remains to top the group.”
After being held to a scoreless draw against Jamaica in its opener, an assertive France was rewarded in the 17th minute when Eugenie Le Sommer angled a header into the goal.
Brazil, however, unleashed a series of dangerous counterattacks and leveled the score in the 58th minute when Debinha de Oliveira capitalized on a string of neat possession to fire into the net.
As Renard restored France’s lead, Brazil turned to the legendary Marta da Silva, who came off the bench but was unable to deliver any late magic.
World No. 3 Sweden secured its spot in the knockout stages with a demolition of Italy in a decisive victory.
They experienced a hot streak late in the first half when Amanda Ilestedt, Fridolina Rolfo, and Stina Blackstenius scored, deflating a helpless Italy.
Sweden remained unrelenting, with defender Ilestedt adding another in the second half and substitute Rebecka Blomqvist scoring in the dying minutes before nearly 30,000 fans in Wellington.
The result ensured a top-two finish for Sweden in Group G.
“We excel at set pieces,” said Ilestedt, the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals. “We have proficient shooters and we know we’re strong headers, so it’s gratifying to see the balls landing where they should.”
Following a 1-0 victory over Argentina in its opener, Italy faces elimination from the tournament if they lose their final group match against South Africa on Wednesday.
“The first half-hour, we actually put up a good fight but were mentally fragile because after two goals, we couldn’t keep our composure,” Italy coach Milena Bertolini said.
Second-ranked Germany will face Colombia in the spotlight match on Sunday.