France rout Mexico to claim top spot in Group F
France recovered from the biggest upset in Women's World Cup history by thrashing Mexico 5-0 Wednesday in Ottawa. Marie-Laure Delie scored the fastest goal at this year's tournament, finding the back of the net after just 34 seconds of action, and Eugenie Le Sommer scored twice to inject herself into the Golden Boot race.
With the win, France locked up the top slot in Group F, while Mexico were eliminated. France will now face the second place side in Group E in the Round of 16 on Sunday in Montreal. That team is not yet known as Group E wraps up play later on tonight.
France, who entered this tournament as favorites, had been reeling coming into the game. Stunned 2-0 by Colombia in a game marred by some badly blown calls, the French seemed to be imploding. Notably, Louisa Necib, involved in an on-field dispute with a teammate during that game, was benched for today's showdown, denying her team of one of their most creative playmakers.
As it turned out, reports of France's demise were exaggerated. They didn't even need Necib today, as La Tri simply collapsed.
This was a very bad day at the office for Mexico, who came into the game needing a win to stay alive. Yet from the start, Cecelia Santiago's defense was in hambles, and the French blew through it with shocking ease.
Elodie Thomis started the rout off the kickoff, darting down the far flank, losing her marker and popping the ball up to Delie, who simply out-jumped her defender to nod home past Santiago. It was the second-fastest goal all-time at the Women's World Cup, and Mexico never recovered. Nine minutes later, under pressure from Camille Abily, Jenny Ruiz-Williams bopped the ball into her own net. A visibly frustrated Santiago lashed out at her defense — and she had a point.
Santiago's fury would only grow four minutes later as Eugenie Le Sommer had an easy volley to the near post, simply vaulting on to an undefended cross from Abily. Delie would then add what should have been second of the night, ricocheting the ball off Le Sommer as Valeria Miranda conspired to keep her onside. The official scorer would award Le Sommer the goal in the end, but Santiago had no chance to save it either way.
Amandine Henry would add an exclamation point in the 80th minute, firing home one of the goals of the tournament, a long-range scorcher that Santiago could only watch pass by. And there was no hope at the other end, either: keeper Sarah Bouhaddi did not face a single shot from La Tri this afternoon.
Mexico, who have yet to win a Women's World Cup match, will now head home with many questions to answer. Battling to a draw against Colombia in the opener, Mexico's defense was exposed by England in a game that the final 2-1 scoreline doesn't accurately reflect. Tentative then and absent today, longtime Mexico manager Leonardo Cuellar will have to address that backline ahead of next year's qualification. One thing is clear: he has a keeper in Santiago. What he lacks is anything in front of her.
France, on the other hand, have dusted themselves off after their shock against Colombia. While their intrapersonal dynamics remain troubling, they finally showed the flow and grace that made Les Bleues the hipsters' favorites — and they did it all without Necib, to boot.