Jun 27, 2023
[1/5]France's Kadidiatou Diani celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates against Panama. REUTERS/Carl Recine Acquire Licensing Rights SYDNEY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Kadidiatou Diani netted a
[1/5]France's Kadidiatou Diani celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates against Panama. REUTERS/Carl Recine Acquire Licensing Rights
SYDNEY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Kadidiatou Diani netted a hat-trick, including two penalties, to lead France to a frenzied 6-3 victory over debutants Panama on Wednesday and into the last 16 of the Women's World Cup.
Les Bleues needed only a draw in the Group F finale against winless Panama. After conceding in the second minute, fifth-ranked France dominated, with goals from Maelle Lakrar, Lea Le Garrec and Vicki Becho, despite playing without captain Wendie Renard and all-time leading scorer Eugenie Le Sommer.
Marta Cox made history by scoring Panama's first-ever Women's World Cup goal - and the quickest at this tournament at 1:07 - with a stunning 35-yard free kick that curled into the top corner. Cox burst into tears before being mobbed by team mates.
Lakrar finally got France on the scoresheet in the 21st minute with a header that goalkeeper Deysire Salazar could not keep out.
Diani netted her first seven minutes later, pouncing from six yards out after a goalmouth scramble, before converting from the penalty spot for her second after a handball in the area.
Le Garrec scored just before halftime with an intended long cross that curled into the net, putting Les Bleues up 4-1 at the break while Panama's players argued among themselves before trudging off the pitch.
Diani completed her hat-trick with another penalty seven minutes after the break following a handball in the box.
"It's true that on a personal note, it was wonderful to be able to score my first goals in a World Cup. I'm happy for myself on a personal note but above all for my team," the 28-year-old forward said.
Trailing 5-1, Yomira Pinzon added a second for Las Canaleras - the Canal Girls - from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, to the delight of a largely neutral Sydney Football Stadium crowd of 40,498, after a foul by Elisa De Almeida on Riley Tanner.
Lineth Cedeno pulled another back with a header in the 87th minute, reacting quickest after the ball had bounced off the bar. The goal was initially ruled offside, before a VAR review allowed it to stand.
Becho scored deep into stoppage time, flicking in Eve Perisset's cross, and despite the lopsided score, when the whistle blew Panama erupted into joyous celebration, dancing on the pitch long after most fans had departed.
"We gained a lot, we won a lot, 40,000 people that ended up cheering for our team, 40,000 people at the stadium that we were able to feel the energy, the vibes from the Panamanian football fans... they were filling the Panamanian heart," Panama coach Ignacio Quintana said.
France will meet the second-place team from Group H - either Colombia, Germany or Morocco - in the last 16.
Reporting by Lori EwingEditing by Christian Radnedge
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