France advanced to the Euro 2022 quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory against Belgium in Rotherham.
Corinne Diacre’s team scored both goals in the first half to make it two wins from two in the group stages, with a considerably more dominant performance than the result shows.
Les Bleues were quickly in control, grabbing the lead after just six minutes when Delphine Cascarino’s back post cross was met by Kadidiatou Diani, who rose highest to head home from six yards.
Soon after, the PSG attacker nearly added a second, but goalkeeper Nicky Evrard made a fantastic stop from point-blank range.
France dominated and had multiple chances to increase their lead, but Belgium equalised entirely against the flow of play through Janice Cayman, who stabbed past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin following Tessa Wullaert’s brilliant assist.
However, the tie lasted only five minutes as Griedge Mbock Bathy reclaimed the advantage before halftime, meeting Clara Mateo’s whipped cross and found the back of the net.
After the half, Les Bleus struggled to regain their impetus, though Cascarino did drag one attempt wide, while Ouleymata Sarr was left frustrated when her heavy touch enabled ‘keeper Nicky Evrard to rush from her line and claim.
When the replacement was picked out in acres of space in the area, he should have put the game to bed quickly, only for an extremely tame effort to be comfortably pushed away.
The lack of a third goal – Wendie Renard would miss a late penalty – left France vulnerable to a sucker punch, but they controlled the final 30 minutes flawlessly, with Belgium scarcely entering the 18-yard box.
Several teams have established themselves during the group stages of Euro 2022, but few have been as entertaining and powerful on the front foot than France, who has already scored seven goals in two games.
They had never advanced past the quarter-finals of the European Championships, but this ‘golden generation’ of players, who were pre-tournament third favourite to win the championship, appear to be on track to do so!