Women's World Cup dream over for Morocco after France hand out four-goal beating

Atlas Lionesses thrashed 4-0 in round-of-16 clash in Adelaide on Tuesday

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Morocco's Women's World Cup adventure was brought to a crushing end as France ran out convincing 4-0 winners in their round-of-16 clash in Adelaide on Tuesday.

The Atlas Lionesses were three goals down within 23 minutes at Hindmarsh Stadium after goals from Kadidiatou Diani, Kenza Dali and Eugenie Le Sommer.

Le Sommer, France's all-time leading scorer, grabbed her second 20 minutes from time, despite a much-improved performance from Morocco after the break. France will now take on co-hosts Australia in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Debutants Morocco became the lowest ranked team (72) to play in the last 16, bouncing back from a 6-0 rout by Germany in their opening match to beat South Korea and Colombia to advance to the round of 16 at the expense of No 2-ranked Germany.

However, the French proved a step too far for Reynald Pedros' side, who managed just one attempt on goal during the entire 90 minutes. Yet they can still take huge pride at their efforts which saw them become the first Arab team to register a win in the competition when they beat the Koreans.

Morocco had already made Women’s World Cup history as the first Arab or North African nation to qualify for the finals, and Nouhaila Benzina had also made history by becoming the first player to wear a hijab at the tournament.

"I am not disappointed because we were in the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time and we know very well that the further on you go, the harder it gets," said Morocco coach Reynald Pedros.

"I am very, very happy with the run we have had and I wish France good luck and hope they go on to be world champions."

Herve Renard's France stand 67 places above Morocco in Fifa's world rankings and their superior quality was clear in a one-sided first half that saw them score three times in eight minutes to all but kill off the game.

Diani, who netted a hat-trick in their 6-3 group-stage win against Panama, opened the scoring after 15 minutes when she was left unmarked in the box for an easy header from Sakina Karchaoui's cross that left Moroccan keeper Khadija Er-Rmichi smacking her fists on the turf in frustration.

In the 20th minute Dianni turned provider, cutting the ball back to Aston Villa's Dali who struck a low shot into the corner via the inside of the post.

Things went from bad to worse for Morocco when Nesryne El Chad tried to clear the ball but only succeeded in playing it off Diani, who set up Le Sommer.

Fears that Morocco could be facing a defeat worse than their mauling against Germany were eased as France took their foot off the accelerator in the second half, adding just one more to the scoreline.

In the 70th minute, substitute Vicki Becho crossed from the right for 34-year-old Lyon forward Le Sommer to head home at the back post for her 92nd international goal in 181 caps.

“We fulfilled our objective. You always want a little bit more, but it's fine,” Renard said afterwards. “Now we can start thinking about the quarter-final against the host nation. We have matched our performance of four years ago, but our objective was to do better than we did in 2011 [when they reached the semi-finals], so we know what we have left to do.”

Updated: August 08, 2023, 2:08 PM