GLASGOW: Goals from the defensive duo of Laura Georges and Wendie Renard fired France to a 2-1 win over Sweden and on into the semi-finals of London 2012. They now face Japan at Wembley on Monday.
But Bruno Bini’s side were forced to come from behind against a team to whom they had lost to in Women’s World Cup third-place play-off last year.
The tone for an incident-packed first half in the quarter-final was set inside the opening few seconds, when Lisa Dahlkvist spotted Sarah Bouhaddi slightly off her line and attempting to score from the halfway line. The ball ended up well wide of the right-hand post, but it was an early statement of intent from the Swedes, and they followed it up by taking the lead after 17 minutes.
Captain Nilla Fischer misjudged the flight of Marie Hammarstrom’s corner but still sent the ball looping into the net off her right shoulder.
The Swedes might have added a second six minutes later but for a brilliant point-blank save from Sarah Bouhaddi, swooping low to her left to keep out a close-range downward header from the dangerous Dahlkvist.
Bouhaddi’s intervention also proved to be a turning point in the first half, which ended with France having turned a deficit into a one-goal lead. Their equaliser came after 29 minutes, when Hedvig Lindahl flapped at a deep, inswining corner from Louisa Necib, presenting Georges with the chance to head home from six yards.
Both side’s struggled to deal with set pieces and it was no surprise when Les Bleues took the lead from yet another dead ball situation. A floated Sandrine Soubeyrand free-kick caused panic in the Swedes’ defence and Georges headed across goal for Renard to score from five yards.
Sweden tried to hit back. Linda Sembrandt headed just wide and Sara Thunebro testing Bouhaddi’s handling from 30 yards. However, the French keeper saved her best moment for the 72nd minute, when she produced a stunning save to tip away Fischer’s goal-bound volley after the midfielder had been played in by Lotta Schelin.
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