France down Junior Football Ferns

Playing without injured captain Katie Bowen, the Junior Football Ferns battled gamely against the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup champions but couldn’t produce the regular attacking threat which brought Thursday’s 2-0 win over Paraguay.
Kadidiatou Diani’s 20th minute strike opened the scoring and France went on with the task in the second period with Claire Lavogez and a brace from substitute Clarisse Le Bihan completing the job.
The Junior Football Ferns set out to build their possession phases from the back, mirroring the senior Football Ferns side, but the New Zealand team couldn’t translate that intent into regular progression through midfield under heavy French pressure.
New Zealand scoring chances were limited to efforts from distance from Thursday’s goalscorers Emma Rolston and captain Stephanie Skilton as well as midfielder Evie Millynn.
After a scoreless opening period as both sides settled into the contest, France stepped up their pressure after the 15 minute mark and they were rewarded as Diani was left with a simple tap in after Lavogez’s wide freekick.
The Junior Football Ferns survived several scares in the minutes that followed and a combination of good work from goalkeeper Lily Alfeld and some wayward French finishing saw the 1-0 score line remain until the break.
The second half brought a similar pattern with France in the ascendency and Lavogez made it 2-0 as the French midfielder lashed the ball home in the 53rd minute and the margin could have grown if not for some excellent last-ditch defending soon after from Meikayla Moore and Emily Jensen.
French substitute Le Bihan boosted the final margin with two goals inside 120 seconds with 10 minutes remaining; driving home from inside the area after receiving a well-struck long pass and then smashing home in the aftermath of a freekick.
New Zealand can still progress to the knockout stages of the U-20 event for the first time with a result against Costa Rica on Thursday.
New Zealand viewers can the action LIVE on SKY Sport 2 at 9am.

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