Germany will face France in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup. France set up the all-European contest by beating South Korea on Sunday, after Germany knocked off Sweden a day earlier.
The French women were in control of their round of 16 match against South Korea from start to finish, with Marie-Laure Delie opening the scoring in just the fourth minute of play in Montreal's cavernous Olympic Stadium.
The predominantly French-speaking crowd of just 15,518 needed no further invitation, quickly serenading the French women with a rendition "La Marseillaise."
Elodie Thomis doubled the advantage for Les Bleues just four minutes later and soon the crowd was giving an encore performance of the French national anthem.
This was just the sort of quick start that French coach Philippe Bergeroo had demanded of his players, particularly in light of their 2-0 loss to Colombia in the group stage, when they were somewhat sluggish coming out of the dressing room.
"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."
France struck again early in the second half, with Delie scoring her second in the 48th minute, putting the result pretty much beyond doubt and setting of another rendition of La Marseillaise.
"Their speed was incredible," South Korea coach Dukyeo Yoon marveled. "Our defenders had trouble coping with that."
The 3-0 result has earned France a place in the quarterfinals, where they will face Germany, who defeated Sweden by a score of 4-1 in Ottawa on Saturday. Among those in the crowd on Sunday was Germany's coach, Silvia Neid, while her players watched the game on TV after checking into their hotel.
Not surprisingly, Neid said she expected the French to be tough to beat when the two teams kick off in Olympic Stadium on Friday.
"France is a technically brilliant team, strong in all positions on the field. I expect a game of two evenly-matched opponents who will not give anything away for free," she said.
French coach Bergeroo, though, indicated that Germany was the clear favorite.
"They are certainly the best nation in the world. We'll play with all the determination and respect that is required," he said.
Matildas stun Marta's Brazil, Canada squeak through
Hosts Canada progressed to the quarters on Sunday, courtesy of a second-half goal from Josee Belanger. The 29-year-old from Qeubec netted the winner in the 52nd minute against Switzerland, as the hosts won 1-0 in Vancouver.
"Belanger was fantastic in the second half, she came up trumps for Canada," said coach John Herdman. "I'm proud of what we've achieved. We have to make sure we keep rolling, keep this machine on the move."
A passionate crowd of 53,855 turned out to support the tournament hosts. Canada will face either Norway or England in the next round.
Sunday's other game was also a single-goal affair, as Australia's "Matildas" secured their first ever win in a knockout game in a Women's World Cup, surprisingly booting Brazil out of the competition. Substitute Kyah Simon bagged the decisive goal around 10 minutes from time, against opposition that had not conceded a single goal in the group stage.
"I think exhilarating is the word for such a victory against a big, powerful football nation," said coach Alen Stajcic after the game, also praising his Sydney FC super-sub. "Being in the right place at the right time is what makes great players and Kyah Simon showed that today."
Despite their men's team success, and superstar striker Marta, now 29 and with a record 15 career World Cup goals on her career tally, Brazil have never won the Women's World Cup.
pfd/msh (dpa, AP, Reuters)