MONTREAL (AP) — The French-speaking and France-favoring crowd sang “La Marseillaise” three times during Sunday’s game against South Korea.
One for each goal scored by “Les Bleues.”
“Hearing them encourage us,” midfielder Amandine Henry said after France beat South Korea 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup, “that really motivates us in the field when we hear our national anthem. It brings us even closer to France.”
Marie Laure Delie scored twice — the first just four minutes into the game, when the strains of the national anthem had barely faded from the Olympic Stadium. France, which is third in the FIFA rankings, will play top-ranked Germany on Friday in Montreal for a spot in the semifinals.
German coach Silvia Neid was in the stands on Sunday, scouting her next opponent a day after her team beat Sweden 4-1 in Ottawa.
“Germany is a great nation; their ranking shows it,” Henry said. “We’re not afraid of them. We’re going to prepare properly and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
France won its group despite a loss to unheralded Colombia in group play that left coach Philippe Bergeroo reminding his players that they couldn’t afford another slow start. They responded by beating Mexico 5-0, with Delie opening the scoring in the group-stage finale just 34 seconds into the match — the second-fastest goal in World Cup history.
Delie scored in the fourth minute against South Korea and Elodie Thomis made it 2-0 in the eighth. Soon, the crowd was serenading Les Bleues with “La Marseillaise.”
“Their speed was incredible,” South Korea coach Dukyeo Yoon said. “Our defenders had trouble coping with that.”
Delie struck quickly again in the second half, making it 3-0 in the 48th minute when Eugenie Le Sommer brought the ball to the end line and passed it back in the middle for an easy redirect. Delie received a standing ovation when she left in the 84th minute for a substitute.
“The players have a lot of determination, as soon as the game starts, as soon as the anthem plays,” Bergeroo said. “We’ve been able to muzzle the opponent twice. It didn’t work against Colombia. This allows our players to relax and then go against the opposing team.”
The first half had a lengthy delay when South Korean goalkeeper Jungmi Kim needed medical attention after taking an elbow — from one of her own teammates — to her cheek while leaping for a ball that was lobbed into the box.
She remained in the game with her cheek bandaged, but she took another hit later in the half.
With Le Sommer making plays and Henry controlling the midfield, France held a 2-to-1 advantage in ball possession and used crisp passing in the penalty area for all three goals.
After the second goal, the South Koreans huddled up in front of their net. The pep talk may have helped them avoid falling further behind for the rest of the half, but Delie struck again early in the second.
South Korea scored only one goal and lost all three matches in its only other World Cup appearance, in 2003. But it tied Costa Rica and then beat Spain 2-1 in the Group E finale for its first-ever World Cup win.
“We’ve done what we could do,” Yoon said, adding that to get go further in 2019 the players and the coaches will have to do better. “That’s our challenge. We don’t have sturdy grassroots soccer in Korea. We need to build a sturdy grassroots framework.”
“It’s a little bit early for us to discuss our next World Cup, in four years,” he said. “But I am convinced those players can play a role in that next World Cup. They will grow, and gain even more experience.”
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